Kolkata: A key vote on whether or not to work with the Congress to defeat the BJP in the 2019 general elections, was won today by those in favour of maintaining distance from the country's largest opposition party. The voting took place at the Central Committee or CC meet in Kolkata today, after discussing two rival drafts of political resolution -- a crucial document that decides the party's way forward for the next three years.
- CPM decides not to work with Congress to defeat BJP in 2019 elections
- Prakash Karat's draft not to back Congress defeats Yechury's by one vote
- CPM's internal voting took place in Kolkata today
Those supporting the current party general secretary, Sitaram Yechury - mainly leaders of the party's Bengal unit - wanted an electoral deal with what they called "all secular Left and democratic forces" including the Congress. But the voting was won by the supporters of former party general secretary Prakash Karat.
For the most part of 35 years when the CPM was in power in Bengal, the Congress had been its enemy. The situation changed after the rise of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, which ousted the Left from power in 2011.
Ahead of the 2016 assembly elections in Bengal, Mr Karat and his supporters -- mainly leaders from Kerala -- were against a deal with the Congress. But the Bengal leaders had gone ahead with an informal understanding with the Congress to defeat the Trinamool Congress. The election was swept by Mamata Banerjee's party, after which the CPM-Congress bonhomie had fallen through.
In several subsequent elections at some pockets of Bengal -- local bodies and by-elections - the BJP has outstripped Left as the main opposition party.
Ms Banerjee has since been making efforts to stitch together an alliance against the BJP at the national level. She has held several meetings with leaders like Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar leader Lalu Yadav and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who has since been replaced by her son Rahul Gandhi.
The CPM, which held 43 seats in Parliament in 2004, is now down to 9 seats. In the 2016 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress retained 44 seats, down from 145 in 2004.