After Tripura Rout, Debate Within CPM On Alliances Could Become Shriller

The Left government, in power in the state for 25 years, was routed by the BJP that earlier had less than a 2 per cent vote share in Tripura.

After Tripura Rout, Debate Within CPM On Alliances Could Become Shriller

Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury at the party's 21st National Congress (PTI)

New Delhi:  An internal debate in the CPI(M) on the political line the party has to follow has become even more shrill after its crushing defeat in Tripura, with the camp supporting general secretary Sitaram Yechury blaming the former party boss Prakash Karat for not adapting to changing scenarios in the country.

The incumbent Left government, in power in the state for 25 years, was routed by the BJP that earlier had less than a 2 per cent vote share in Tripura.

"The issue will now be debated in our party congress (to be held in April). I will not be able to say anything now as the final decision will be taken there," Mr Yechury told news agency PTI.

Though the general secretary was tight-lipped, it has become amply clear that party leaders supporting his line will now strongly push for having an understanding with all anti-BJP forces as against Mr Karat's policy of keeping a distance from other such parties.

"The Tripura results clearly show that the Left should have tried to bring all the anti-BJP forces together to defeat the BJP. The Congress had its voters in the state. But we could not give them an alternative. We should have given them the confidence that we could take the BJP on," a senior leader from Bengal said.

The leader from the Bengal unit -- which has mostly been with Mr Yechury on alliances -- hoped for a change in the party line.

The Karat camp did not agree, with some members holding that along with anti-incumbency, the erosion of the Congress helped the BJP.

"There is no anti-BJP force other than the Left in Tripura. The Congress vote share has come down to 2 per cent from 36 per cent in the state. We have got 46 per cent votes in Tripura. The entire Congress leadership crossed over to the BJP," CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat told PTI.

The defeat is also being seen in Left circles as a breakdown in the CPI(M)'s electoral and political strategy and the party's disconnect with the masses and ground reality.

The CPI, another Left party, believed the CPI(M) had failed to adapt to changing times and the results reflected not just the coming apart of its electoral and political strategy but also a massive disconnect with reality.

"As Communists we must understand changing times and challenges. We must understand the BJP is coming to power. It is no ordinary change of power. We have to change our strategy accordingly to defeat the BJP-RSS combine. That's why we need a broader anti-BJP front," said CPI leader D Raja.

Some Left insiders rued that while the Left was losing its bastions such as West Bengal earlier and Tripura now, the CPI(M) was still grappling with internal differences.

The difference of opinion between party general secretary Mr Yechury and his predecessor Prakash Karat over the use of the phrase "understanding with the Congress" in its draft political resolution to be discussed at the party congress in April has become the talk of Left political circles.

Mr Karat s line against electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress prevailed over Mr Yechury's, who did not want to rule out an understanding with the Congress.

A senior party member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the result of the Tripura Assembly election was likely to change equations within the party.

"After Tripura, many leaders within the party who had earlier backed the Karat line are now slowly realising that in today's political situation, the Left needs to bring all anti-BJP forces together to fight against the BJP," the leader said.

The debate is going to become sharper in the days to come, in the run-up to and at the party congress in Hyderabad. The daggers would be out, and the voices -- although behind closed doors -- loud and shrill.

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