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INDIA bloc hits rough weather in Bengal, Kerala & Tripura, CPI(M) refuses to join poll strategy panel


New Delhi: In developments that reflect strains on the opposition unity, the CPI(M) has decided to maintain distance from a key election strategy group of the INDIA bloc, while the Congress’s Tripura unit has expressed its unwillingness to tie up with the Left parties in any future election in the state.

Though the internal contradictions, particularly in West Bengal and Kerala, were evident for some time, the CPI(M) politburo, following deliberations over the last weekend, has arrived at the conclusion that its mere presence in such groups will be against the party’s interests.

“While all decisions will be taken by the leaders of the constituents, there should be no organisational structures that will be an impediment for such decisions,” the CPI(M) politburo said in a statement Sunday, in an oblique reference to the INDIA bloc’s 13-member coordination and election strategy committee.

The CPI(M) wants to send a clear message to its cadre that there is no plan to strike any seat-sharing pact with the TMC in West Bengal or the Congress in Kerala.

A CPI(M) politburo member told ThePrint that the party was also dismayed by the abrupt cancellation of the Bhopal joint rally of the INDIA bloc as the “need of the hour” was to mobilise voices against economic hardship being faced by the people.

“All state-level election adjustments have to be done at the state for which the coordination work needs to be at the leadership-level. Now all these various committees are taking their own decisions, then rescinding them. These are impediments for the main issue which is that we have to get moving among the people,” the CPI(M) leader said.

The West Bengal and Kerala units of CPI(M) felt that the very act of nominating a member to the election strategy committee, which was tasked with seat-sharing deals among Opposition parties, could have left its workers and supporters in these two states confused.

Congress and TMC national general secretaries K.C. Venugopal and Abhishek Banerjee figure in the  panel, which was announced in Mumbai on 1 September. The other members include NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK head M.K. Stalin.

Originally envisaged as a 14-member committee, a berth was kept vacant for the CPI(M), which was expected to nominate a member. But, the CPI(M)’s stance has dealt a setback to that plan.

What may muddy the waters is that even in Tripura — where the Congress and the Left have fought the last assembly election together — any future seat-sharing between these parties is appearing increasingly difficult.

“More than their approach during the state polls, their unilateral moves during the byelections to two states and the eventual performance they posted has convinced us that tying up with the TIPRA Motha will be more beneficial in Tripura, rather than allying with the CPI(M),” a Tripura Congress leader said.

Notwithstanding these differences, the CPI(M) does not plan to exit the INDIA bloc. “INDIA is a very important platform. We are all fully with that platform, we want to strengthen the platform. We want more and more, not just political parties, but also  social movements and organisations to become a part of the platform against the BJP and the RSS. That has consistently been our approach,” the politburo member said.

The politburo statement also said that the CPI(M) has decided to work for the “further consolidation and expansion of INDIA bloc” and that requires that the “BJP must be kept away from controlling the Union government and State Power.”

“The Politburo endorsed the CPI(M) position at the last three meetings of INDIA bloc in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai to organise a series of public meetings across the country and to mobilise the people to ensure the defeat of the BJP in the forthcoming elections. Efforts should be focused to further expand the INDIA bloc and also to draw in significant sections of the people’s movements in this effort,” it said.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: INDIA disunity, TIPRA’s mixed signals — how BJP won 88% vote in Tripura’s Muslim-dominated Boxanagar 



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