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Election Round Up: CPM-Congress No Longer Enemies In West Bengal

James Paul | Mar 06 2019 06:17:50 PM
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India is witnessing some interesting political team-ups ahead of the Lok Shaba polls, which were termed as impossible till yesterday.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which was founded as an alternative to the Congress hegemony, by emphasizing on the Telugu regional pride and a party for farmers, backward castes and middle-class people is now joined hands with Congress in the national level.

Likewise in UP, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Wadi Party and Samaj Wadi Party, both were arch enemies, have decided to face the elections together. Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) in Tamil Nadu, which was formed to fight against Dravidian politics is now team up with the Dravidian politics and AIADMK.

But the most interesting of all the political coalitions is the recent one in West Bengal were CPM joined hands with its traditional enemy Congress. The CPM’s historical opposition to the Congress has prevented it from allying with the Congress, but it made an exception in Bengal this time.

Left Front, especially the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is forced to form an alliance with its traditional rival Congress, in West Bengal and in Odisha to prevent BJP and Hinduvata forces. They may argue that this is not a coalition in the real sense of the term, but in all practical sense, it is an election adjustment and seat sharing arrangement. In fact, they are agreed upon seat sharing arrangements, directly or indirectly, in five states.

This decision is a crucial turning point in CPM politics. Theoretically, CPM considered Congress as a bourgeois party. CPI which belongs to the Left front, had tried to tie up Congress many times, but CPM opposed. CPM overruled the Congress support to Jyothi Basu for Prime Ministership. Later, Jyothi Basu himself described it as a historic blunder. CPM has fired many of its prominent leaders who argued for a tie-up with Congress.

CPM Kerala faction was always against any arrangements with Congress. It was only in the Hyderabad plenum in April 2018 that the party agreed to an open-ended resolution. This essentially meant the party could ally with the Congress if necessary. This was largely seen as a victory for the general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, who was an advocate of issue-based alliances with the Congress to oppose the BJP.

The Left Front is strongly placed only in three states now: Kerala, West Bengal, and Tripura. In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front’s principal opposition is the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

In West Bengal, although it shared a difficult relationship with the Congress, it allied with the grand old party to counter the ruling Trinamool Congress. In Tripura, the CPI (M)-led government was ousted by the BJP in 2018. However, before the BJP’s rise, its primary opposition was the Congress in the northeastern state.

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