Fireworks likely at party meet in April, Bengal camp will push draft again.
New Delhi: The CPI(M) central committee, at a meeting in Kolkata, on Sunday rejected a resolution moved by its general secretary Sitaram Yechury and backed by its influential Bengal unit, for a political understanding with the Congress. With this, the battle has now shifted to the party congress to be held in Hyderabad in April, where an alternative resolution may be moved by at least 12 state units reiterating the need for a broader political understanding with the Congress in order to defeat the BJP in 2019.
The “tyranny of the majority”, which the Left party has accused the BJP of practising in the Lok Sabha on many occasions, came back to haunt the CPI(M) as its central committee defeated the resolution moved by the Bengal faction led by Mr Yechury by a margin of 55-31, virtually closing the door for any political understanding with the Congress ahead of the 2019 general election. The central committee instead adopted the draft put forward by Mr Yechury’s arch-rival, former general secretary Prakash Karat.
However, highly-placed sources said at least 12 state units are prepared to move an alternative draft at the 22nd party congress to be held in Hyderabad in April.
Under the party constitution, if the total number of members of these units is more than one-third of the membership of total party members, they can move an alternate draft resolution to be taken up at the party congress. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir are among the states which voted in favour of Mr Yechury’s resolution at the central committee.
Interestingly, though Mr Yechury or his so called Bengal faction was hugely outnumbered by Mr Karat’s Kerala faction at the central committee as well as the politburo earlier, at the party congress the two sides would have almost equal representation. The party congress has roughly 600 members. Thus it would be easier for Mr Yechury to move any amendment he desires there. However, traditionally, the party congress has never accepted any amendment which goes against the sense of the draft resolution adopted by the central committee.
However, there were sure to be fireworks at the party congress over this. An adamant Mr Yechury had even threatened to quit at the politburo and central committee meetings if his draft was also not taken up for consideration along with Mr Karat’s draft.
When questioned on this at a press conferen-ce on Sunday, he said: “I am here as the party has asked me to continue as the general secretary.” Though disagreements are the norm in other parties, it is rare in the CPI(M). Once the party adopts a “political-tactical” line, everyone is supposed to stick to it. But in reality, the CPI(M) now has two party lines. The last time that happened — in the undivided Communist Party in 1964 — it had split.
In the two months from now till the party congress, the draft will be put up for consultation. During this time, all state committees, intellectuals and other stakeholders can put forward their views and suggest amendments.
Sources said the central committee meeting held four rounds of voting over the draft. The first saw 51-25 voting, in the second round it was 30-52, in the third it was 35-52 while the final round saw 31-55 voting. There were a total of 75 amendments moved in the final round.
“The draft political resolution adopted af-ter incorporating some amendments states that there should be no electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress,” Mr Yechury told reporters in Kolkata after the central committee meeting was over.
Though the central committee and the politburo are dominated by the Kerala faction, a state where the CPI(M) is in power, it is the other state committees, led by West Bengal, which are keen on an alliance with the Congress as the party cadre feel that without it the party will lose all its electoral relevance.
Unfortunately, such an alliance in the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2016 had not worked for the CPI(M), with the party coming third, even after the Congress. After this, calls by the Karat camp for an ideologically pure stand gained mo-mentum.
Mr Yechury was also denied a third term in the RS which he could have won with Congre-ss support. He is also unlikely to get another term as party general secretary.