The two senior most leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist are at the loggerhead over alliance or adjustment with the Congress.
With cracks appearing in the Communist Party of India-Marxist over the issue of going for an adjustment with the Congress to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party, the leadership is trying to walk a middle path to avoid a likely split in the party in the next party congress.
The CPI-M central committee meeting in Kolkata on January 21 had voted against a draft political resolution, pitched by its General Secretary Sitaram Yechury proposing alliance with the Congress.
The party had adopted a draft resolution favoured by those supporting politburo member Prakash Karat ruling out any form of electoral alliance or adjustment with the Congress.
"The difference within the party, especially between two senior most leaders is sending out a wrong message about the party in public. We need to solve this urgently," CPI-M politburo member Hannan Mollah told PTI.
According to CPI-M sources, the leadership is trying to take a middle path where both the warring factions can be brought to peace by "adopting a political resolution" which can have a "window for some sort of adjustments" with secular forces including the Congress.
A senior CPI-M leader said the ongoing battle of ideas within the party can be termed as a fight between "pragmatic" CPI-M represented by Yechury and "dogmatic" CPI-M represented by Karat.
The cracks within the party came out in the open when Yechury openly stated that he had expressed his desire to quit his post, a claim denied by Karat.
Yechury along with a large section of leaders from Bengal have been vocal about the adjustment with Congress to stop the BJP.
But his political line has been vehemently opposed by Karat, known as a hardliner in the party.
Former CPI-M central committee member and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee felt that the decision of not going for an adjustment with the Congress will prove to be another blunder in the future.
"I feel very sad after seeing what is happening. The party has committed many blunders from not allowing Jyoti Basu to become Prime Minister in 1996, to not joining the government in 2004. This will be another blunder," he said.
"We have a clear understanding about the menace of the BJP. The Tripura unit is also having a taste of the BJP's divisive politics. But despite attacks of the RSS, the Kerala unit is yet to understand the magnitude of the threat the BJP poses," a CPI-M central committee member said on condition of anonymity.
Although the CPI-M is divided over adjustment with the Congress, its allies like the CPI is in favour of broader unity of secular forces including the Congress.
"We feel that there should be broader unity of secular and democratic forces including the Congress to stop the march of the BJP," CPI leader D Raja said.
Other Left allies the RSP and the Forward Bloc are yet to take a call on this issue.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had criticised the CPI-M for adopting a draft political resolution ruling out adjustment with the Congress.
"The BJP is the biggest threat the country is presently facing and all the secular and democratic forces should unite with the Congress to counter it," Ramesh had told PTI.
Congress appeals Karat to drop 'no alliance' line
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan has appealed to Karat to reconsider his resolution of "no alliance" with the party in the larger interest of the country ahead of the Left party's general session in April.
Appealing to Karat to do a rethink on his resolution of "no alliance and no cooperation" with the Congress, Chavan said "any prick lines with the Congress can always be sorted out".
In a move aimed at consolidating anti-BJP parties ahead of 2019 polls, Chavan also asked Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president and Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar to drop his anti-Congress pitch while dubbing him as an "erudite leader of the Dalits after B R Ambedkar".
In a blog on Saturday, Chavan said it was "flummoxing " that when comrade Yechury and comrade Raja walked shoulder to shoulder with other opposition leaders in the "save the Constitution" march, the Congress became "untouchable" for comrade Karat at this critical juncture.
Chavan was referring to the march which was held in south Mumbai on January 26 and was attended by Left leaders, Janata Dal-United rebel Sharad Yadav, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and others.
"I can only pray that he (Karat) does a rethink before his party's general session in April, where his resolution will be ratified or rejected, in the larger interest of the country. Any prick lines with the Congress can always be sorted out," the former chief minister said.
He also took an apparent jibe at Ramdas Athawale, the Union minister of state for social justice in the NDA government.
"Prakash Ambedkar is emerging as an erudite leader of the Dalits after Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is astute, educated, sophisticated and presentable.
"It is these qualities that make him stand apart from those who claim to be champions of the Dalit cause but have fallen for allurement and largesse of BJP," Chavan said.
Athawale's RPI-A has the largest following among the Dalits in Maharashtra who are divided in various factions.
"I have personally witnessed how they lost their trustworthiness and are being hated by the Dalit community. This is the time when Prakashji needs as many friends as possible across the political spectrum to consolidate his position," Chavan said.
He also showered praises on Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar, but expressed dissatisfaction over his decision of staying away from the march.
He said the march was not the occasion to display the "discomfort" Prakash Ambedkar had with certain leaders.
"It (the march) was an expression of disenchantment with current rulers and solidarity with the Constitution. Why shy away from shaking hands with the Congress to begin with," he said.
"I'm sure Prakash Karat and Prakash Ambedkar are both bright enough to distinguish who the real enemy is and how any rigid stance may eventually help the monster grow," the Nanded MP said.
Today, we are witnessing what can be described as butchering of innocent people on the false notions of nationalism, he alleged.
"Disastrous economic policies and immature financial decisions have wrecked havoc on the life of workers farmers and lower middle class," Chavan said.
In a bid to reach larger constituency, Chavan said the "religious supremacy" was thrust upon the country.
He alleged that the unchecked arrogance of the current dispensation had reached its peak and religious supremacy was being thrust upon the country.
Minorities and Dalits were being treated as secondary citizens and even ministers were saying that they had assumed power to alter India's secular constitution, Chavan said.
The Congress is trying to bring together opposition parties on a wider anti-BJP platform in a bid to pose a formidable challenge to the saffron party in the 2019 elections.
Image: Senior Communist leaders Debabrata Biswas, Sitaram Yechury, A B Bardhan, D Raja and Prakash Karat during a rally in New Delhi in July, 2008. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters