Now that the CPI(M)’s Central Committee has shot down the proposal for marriage between the CPI(M) and the Congress in West Bengal, leaders of both parties in Kerala are a relieved lot.

Had the electoral alliance gone through, the Kerala units of the two parties would have found it difficult to explain to the people of the State the rationale for an alliance in West Bengal and the ferocious rivalry in the southern State.

Both States go to the polls in a few months.

‘Understanding’ remains

Last week, the CPI(M)’s Central Committee (CC) decided not to ally with the Congress, notwithstanding pressure from its Bengal unit. However, the CC gave enough leeway to the Bengal unit to have tacit electoral understandings with ‘democratic forces’ so as to defeat the Trinamool Congress and isolate the BJP.

The party’s top body could not approve of an alliance as the party’s Political Tactical Line (PTL), adopted at at the Visakhapatnam congress last year, had specifically ruled out an “understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress…”. However, the CC decision now has virtually approved an ‘understanding’.

Advantage BJP

“What this means is that there will be no open alliance but only seat adjustments with the Congress,” says Appukkuttan Vallikkunnu, political commentator, author and expelled CPI(M) leader. This would have a negative fallout in Kerala because the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front would not be able to mount a very aggressive attack on the Congress-led United Democratic Front during the electioneering. Also, Vallikkunnu pointed out, the BJP would use the CPI(M)-Congress ‘understanding’ to its advantage in Kerala.

The fact that the Assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal would be held simultaneously would make the situation worse. Vallikkunnu also pointed out that the alliance issue had brought to the fore the growing differences between Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury within the Politburo and the CC.

It was Kerala contingent that had raised the biggest opposition to the proposed alliance at the meetings of the Politburo and the CC.

However, VS Achuthanandan, a founding leader of the CPI(M), who is an invitee at the CC, issued a statement to attendees supporting the alliance. But, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Pinarayi Vijayan, current and formers State secretaries respectively, had publicly stated that there would be no truck with the Congress in Bengal.

‘CPI(M) should explain’

A senior member of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee told BusinessLine that he was relieved that there would be no alliance in West Bengal. He said the CPI(M) would now have to do some explaining about the understanding during electioneering.

However, a State committee member of the CPI(M) claimed the likely understanding in Bengal would in no way affect the party’s campaign here. “An understanding is totally different from an out-and-out alliance,” he said.

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