Battle lines drawn between Yechury, Karat factions

In picture: Senior CPM leader Prakash Karat and general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

The CPM is heading to its triennial Party Congress in Hyderabad from Wednesday amid attempts by a faction led by Prakash Karat to deny a second term for general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

The five-day conference, which would decide on the party's line whether to cooperate with the Congress in its fight against the BJP as suggested by Yechury, could also see a likelihood of the Karat faction suggesting former Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar as Yechury's possible replacement.

However, the projection of Sarkar as an alternative to Yechury could face resistance as it could send a wrong signal to the cadre in Tripura who are “facing attacks” after the CPM lost to the BJP in the Assembly elections.

A senior leader said it would be “demoralising” for the cadre, as it gives an impression that he left for Delhi when they are in trouble.

Karat camp's calculation is that other names like that of Brinda Karat or B Raghavulu may not cut much ice with the 750-odd delegates but Sarkar, with his no-nonsense approach and neutral image, could swing it for them.

Yechury also did not have it easy in the 2015 Vishakhapatnam Party Congress when he was elected general secretary. Outgoing general secretary Karat and his supporters had by then preferred S Ramachandran Pillai as his successor.

The CPM has always given multiple terms to its general secretaries so far and Yechury is unlikely to bow down without a fight.

While a section of the delegates may seek to amend the no-truck with the Congress line explained in the draft political resolution and propagated by the Karat faction and dominate the proceedings, Yechury's opponents would also try to argue that nothing tangible was achieved during his tenure.

The counter may come in the way of citing the leadership taken by the CPM under Yechury in relentlessly building a narrative to counter the BJP government from intolerance debate to independence of campus to farmers and workers' struggle. The increased cohesion between Dalits and the party will also be highlighted.

On the political line, those who argue for understanding with the Congress claim that the opponents were propagating a "fraud distortion" of their position that they want an alliance with the Rahul Gandhi-led party.

This section argues that one should realise that there was no point in giving silent support to the Congress in the electoral fight against the BJP, claiming that their sympathisers may not return to the party in such a scenario.

"A total chimaera is being created that we want an alliance. But we do not want to close the doors also in the way of an understanding in some states," a senior leader said, claiming that the Congress issue is being highlighted to effect a change in leadership.

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