CPI-M to pressurise Congress to back Third Front

By T.G. Biju, IANS,

New Delhi : As speculation mounts over the formation of the next government, the CPI-M remains divided over backing a UPA dispensation and is discussing how to pressure the Congress to support a Third Front led grouping if its partners get enough seats.

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The issues were discussed in detail at an informal meeting of senior Left leaders in Kolkata Sunday, said a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader who was present.

Spelling out the CPI-M strategy, party general secretary Prakash Karat said it should be the Congress turn to support a Third Front government to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) away from power.

“In 2004 we supported the Congress-led government to stop the BJP from coming to power. Now, it is the turn of the Congress to give support to an anti-BJP government,” a Left party leader quoted Karat as saying.

Party sources added that the Communists continued to be divided over propping a Congress government if the Third Front, including Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), AIADMK and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), did not get the numbers.

While Karat is adamant on not doing business with the Congress again and prefers to sit in the opposition, senior leaders Sitaram Yechury and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee are not averse to supporting a Congress-led government, it is learnt.

Party insiders said the majority of the 40 odd seats that the Left was expecting would come from West Bengal and the more pragmatic view of Bhattacharjee and Yechury could prevail over Karat.

Asked about CPI-M leaders from West Bengal talking in favour of a Congress-led government, a senior leader said it was just to create confusion among the Trinamool Congress cadres. The Congress and the Trinamool Congress are contesting elections together in West Bengal.

“It is part of our strategy to confuse the cadres of Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee who have strongly opposed the idea of a Congress-led government supported by the Left. This confusion was created by Rahul Gandhi (Congress general secretary). This confusion should prevail till the elections are over in the state,” he said.

“Once the elections in West Bengal is over, you will get a concrete picture.”

Rahul Gandhi had said last week that his party would not be opposed to shaking hands again with the Communists, prompting an angry reaction from Banerjee.

On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister and party poliburo member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said: “At this moment, we are trying to form a government without Congress, without BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). This is our basic objective at this moment.”

Two other important constituents of the Left, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Forward Bloc, have also asserted that the Left parties are committed to form a non-Congress secular government at the centre.

“We neither support a Congress government nor a Congress-led government,” said CPI national secretary Shameem Faizee.

Forward Bloc national secretary G. Devarajan said the Left parties would lose its political ground if it supported a Congress-led government.