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Cracks widen in communist ranks in Delhi

Last updated on: July 6, 2012 11:58 IST

Cracks widen in communist ranks in Delhi

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Kavita Chowdhury

The Communist Party of India-Marxist raised quite a few eyebrows breaking ranks with the Left parties and pledging its support to United Progressive Alliance's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

The CPI and the Revolutionary Socialist Party have decided to abstain from voting.

However, while it signalled a schism within the Left Front, it also revealed a deeper malaise, the growing fissures within the CPI-M itself, the largest constituent of the Left Front.

According to some political observers, it was also reflective of the consequent weakening of CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat. The party did not hesitate to even expel its research cell head and young leader Prasenjit Bose, for publicly attacking the party's decision to back the UPA presidential candidate.

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The CPI-M has, for some time now, been struggling to contain the divergent views of the Kerala unit and the Bengal unit of the party.

At the decisive meeting of the Left parties on June 21, no unanimity could be arrived at.

The CPI-M, in fact, had met separately that morning to discuss the presidential poll; and while the Bengal unit of the CPI-M was in favour of supporting Mukherjee, the Kerala unit of the party was not so inclined.

Mukherjee himself had called up and spoken to former Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya requesting for the party's support, much to the annoyance of his UPA partner, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee.

Mukherjee and Bhattacharya are old friends.

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Image: (Left) Former Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. (Right) Pranab Mukherjee


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That Prakash Karat ultimately chose to throw in his lot with the Bengal faction, despite being personally disinclined from supporting Mukherjee, goes to show the growing clout of the Bengal unit within the party.

What has emerged of late is the differing interests of the two factions within the party.

While for the Kerala unit, the state Congress is the main enemy which is therefore to be opposed at the Central level as well, for the Bengal unit under Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the Trinamool Congress is the main enemy, at whose hands it lost its 34-year-old bastion of Bengal.

So, when the question of supporting the Congress-led UPA candidate arose, the Kerala unit was firmly opposed to it while the Bengal faction saw in it an "opportunity to capitalise on the differences between the TMC and the Congress in Bengal."

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Image: CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat


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Nilotpal Basu, member of the Central Secretariat of the CPI-M, speaking to Business Standard said, "Abstaining from voting in the poll is not an option; doing so would be interpreted as weakening of our fight against the TMC in the state."

Therefore when its young researcher, Prasenjit Bose, considered close to Karat, lashed out against the party publicly and resigned in protest against party's decision to support Pranab, the CPI-M politburo rejected his resignation and instead expelled him.

Bose told Business Standard, he had already expressed his views in his open letter, adding, "I will speak further only after July 19 presidential election."

Bose's expulsion also indicates a diminishing clout for Karat, as the former was considered to be a Karat protege. Bose had gone on to publicly attacking Karat in his letter saying the arguments he put forward were "wholly misleading".

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Image: Prasenjit Bose


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Political observers say in the past while the CPI-M leadership with the likes of the late Harkishan Singh Surjeet chose to balance the two groups within the party, under Karat's leadership this delicate dynamics has been skewed and Karat capitulates from one to the other depending on the situation.

Nilotpal Basu, while rejecting the charge that supporting the UPA nominee would weaken the CPI-M fight against the economic policies of the UPA, said, "Despite the fact that we have been supporting Congress-backed candidates since the 1990s, except for APJ Abdul Kalam in 2002; that has not in any way deterred us from our fight against the UPA's policies. Remember, we did not hesitate to withdraw support from the UPA-I in 2008."

Significantly, Pranab's nomination, in the hindsight, has caused fissures within not just the Left, but the NDA as well.

The Shiv Sena and the JDU broke ranks with the NDA to support Mukherjee, citing "national interest".

Significantly, each of these parties have explicitly stated that their support would not be interpreted as a support for UPA policies and their fight would continue against their neo-liberal policies.

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Image: Rashtrapati Bhavan


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