Calcutta, Nov. 15: The CPM central committee today formally ratified the Jyoti Basu-Harkishen Singh Surjeet line by adopting a resolution on extending support to Congress candidates even in Andhra Pradesh where chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has sought early elections.
The party has already clarified that it will support Congress nominees in four states — Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — which go to polls on December 1. The CPM has decided to contest only 35 seats in the four states in alliance with “other Left and secular parties”.
CPM sources said both Basu and party general secretary Surjeet were happy with the outcome of the central committee meeting and consider its decision as a vindication of the pro-Congress line they have been advocating for a long time.
“I want to make it clear that the CPM will support Congress candidates in those places of Andhra Pradesh where we shall not be able to put up candidates. This is necessary to ensure the defeat of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, which is a BJP ally. We shall contest only in seats where we have effective presence,” Basu told The Telegraph minutes after the meeting.
“However, we shall not go for any electoral alliance with the Congress nor form any platform with them. Instead, we shall support them only to ensure the defeat of the BJP and its allies,” he said.
The CPM was in a dilemma on the question of supporting the Congress in Andhra since the party has been its traditional political enemy there for a long time. There was considerable pressure from the Andhra unit of the CPM not to extend support to the Congress for electoral gains.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Prakash Karat, a CPM politburo member, said: “Our party’s main purpose is to defeat the TDP-BJP alliance in Andhra Pradesh. We have, therefore, decided to contest only in the seats where we are a force to reckon with. Our party appeals to all secular and democratic forces to support our candidates just as we will be extending our support to the candidates of the Left and secular parties which can defeat the TDP-BJP combine in areas where we are not contesting.”
Asked if secular parties included the Congress, Karat said: “Our party defines the Congress as a secular party. Our aim is to support the strongest party fighting the BJP and the TDP and in Andhra Pradesh it means the Congress.”
Elaborating on the other reasons behind the CPM’s opposition to the Desam, Karat said the party was a staunch supporter of the BJP-led NDA. “Besides, we are totally opposed to Naidu’s economic policies. The TDP government has taken a lead in pushing through policies of liberalisation and globalisation,” he said.
Karat claimed there was no ambiguity in the party’s stand vis-à-vis the Congress. “We will conduct an independent campaign in entire Andhra Pradesh to mobilise people against the TDP-BJP alliance,” he said, thereby making it clear that the CPM would also openly ask the people to vote for Congress nominees in the party’s strongholds. “We are asking our Andhra Pradesh state committee to prepare a list of seats which we can contest. The state committee will work out the details,” he said, indicating that state leaders would shortly hold talks with Congress leaders for seat adjustments.