January 2018
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Fresh vote looms on CPM alliance
(New Delhi, D.C., Dec 10, 2017):A divided CPM politburo on Sunday passed the responsibility to decide the electoral tactics for defeating the BJP to the central committee, where a vote is likely.

The deep differences within the leadership on the subject, which essentially boils down to the party's stand on the Congress, had forced a vote in the central committee in mid-October. With both camps drawing substantial support, the central committee had asked the politburo to draft a fresh political report.

This the politburo has failed to do after two days of discussions on the official draft submitted by general secretary Sitaram Yechury and an alternative document prepared by his predecessor Prakash Karat.

A media release said the politburo had "discussed the draft political report for the 22nd congress" and that "these discussions will now be placed for the central committee's consideration" at its January 19-21 meeting in Calcutta.

Yechury favours an open approach that allows electoral understandings with other parties, to be decided at the state level, without formal alliances.

Karat and his hard-line camp believe that in places where the Left is not contesting, the CPM should only issue a call for defeating the BJP but not express support for any political party.

Besides, the hardliners want to micro-manage any electoral arrangement suggested by the state units, something that is likely to prove impractical as the Left would not be the lead entity in most such arrangements.

Karat's line, however, is the dominant one in the politburo and has the backing of the influential Kerala unit. As the battle over the political line enters another round, many see it as a prelude to a war over the post of general secretary at the next party congress.

"If they can get the Yechury line defeated, the Karat faction can stake claim to the top post that was snatched from them in Vizag," a source said.

At the April 2015 party congress in Visakhapatnam, the hardliners had wanted S. Ramachandran Pillai to be the general secretary but Yechury pipped him at the post.

Yechury has the Bengal unit's backing. In October, when the matter was put to vote in the central committee, Yechury's line drew support also from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana besides a few smaller units, forcing a review of the hardliners' stand.

While the decision-makers in the party tie themselves in knots over the issue and its semantics, the state units seem to be taking a more pragmatic approach on the ground.

Last week, the Bengal unit decided on an alliance with the Congress and other "secular parties" for the panchayat polls in the state, due next summer.

The Gujarat CPM is understood to have sent out a message to voters to support the Congress in the ongoing Assembly elections.

In Tamil Nadu, the state unit wants to align itself with the DMK, which is in a partnership with the Congress.

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