The Left Front in West Bengal is divided over the issue of whether it should enter into an alliance with Congress in the next Lok Sabha elections.
While the state leadership of the CPM has not ruled out joining forces with the Congress in the State, two key Left Front allies — the Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) — have made it clear that they will strongly oppose any such move.
The leaders of both parties claimed that the CPM's decision to enter into a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress in West Bengal in the 2016 Assembly elections was "detrimental" to the "electoral interests" of the Left Front.
A senior CPM state committee member told DH on Friday that "we have not totally ruled out an electoral understanding with the Congress in West Bengal. The matter is being discussed in the party."
The Forward Bloc leadership criticised the CPM for "leaning towards the Congress" and argued that the CPM's logic of joining forces with the Congress to counter the BJP and Trinamool Congress (TMC) is flawed.
"I really cannot understand why CPM thinks that it will be able to counter the BJP by joining hands with the Congress when both the parties are responsible for the sorry state of affairs in the country. While the BJP's communal tactics are harming the country's secular fabric, it was the Congress who initiated globalisation of the Indian economy which has now created the current economic crisis. The CPM can't join hands with one to counter the other," Hafiz Alam Sairani, a senior Forward Bloc state secretariat member said.
Sairani further argued the CPM's act of "dragging the Left Front" into a seat-sharing arrangement with Congress in the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal had resulted in the Left Front's poll debacle.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, the CPM only managed to win 26 seats while RSP won three seats and Forward Bloc won two seats.
The CPI managed to bag only one seat. The TMC got an absolute majority by winning 211 out of the 294 Assembly seats in Bengal. However, the Congress won 44 seats and became the main Opposition party in the state Assembly.
"It is clear that the Left parties were able to transfer their votes to the Congress, but due to its weak organisation, the Congress was unable to transfer its votes to the Left in the last Assembly election. We have severe reservations against any kind of understanding with the Congress and will strongly oppose any such move by the CPM for the Lok Sabha elections," said Sairani.
Referring to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury's comment in Kolkata earlier this month that his party aims to defeat both the BJP and the TMC by polling the maximum number of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes, Sairani asked then why the CPM has not entered into an alliance with Congress in Rajasthan.
The RSP leadership also made it clear that they are opposed to any Left-Congress alliance in 2019. "Such a Left-Congress understanding dealt a severe blow to our electoral prospects in 2016. Our leaders and workers have strong reservations against Congress," said Manoj Bhattacharya, a senior RSP leader.