New Delhi, June 25: Prakash Karat has advocated the need to utilise “fissures” in the ruling alliance and confirmed that the Congress-Trinamul “rift” played a role in the politburo’s decision to back Pranab Mukherjee.
The CPM general secretary has also spotted below the surface of the presidential poll “stirrings and a churning process that presage a political realignment”.
His analysis, put forth in the face of rumblings within the CPM over supporting Congress presidential nominee Mukherjee, megaphones the Bengal unit’s line that opportunities to exploit divisions within the ruling alliance should not be passed up.
In a signed article scheduled to appear in the next edition of CPM mouthpiece People’s Democracy, Karat has cited Trinamul’s decision to oppose Mukherjee’s presidential candidature as a key factor that prompted the politburo to support him.
Karat’s article virtually confirms what had been suspected: despite reservations, he played a critical role in persuading a vertically divided politburo to adopt the tactical line advocated by the Bengal unit.
The decision had bewildered many in the party, particularly in the Kerala unit that is pitted in a direct confrontation with the Congress, and led to the expulsion of a young comrade, Prasenjit Bose, who had hit out at the leadership through a letter.
The detailed explanation, so soon after last week’s politburo meeting, is being seen as an attempt to address concerns within the party and clear the air outside.
The article and his stand in the politburo, the scales of which he eventually tilted through what some had jokingly described as a “casting vote”, have offered a rare insight into the political mind of the very private Karat who is known more for his doctrinaire approach.
Karat said the “candidature of Pranab Mukherjee in the current presidential election has led to a deepening of the rift between the Congress and the TMC” which tried to get A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to be a candidate, “a move that had the full backing of the BJP”.
“Having failed in that, the TMC is now left with the option of abstaining or reversing its position and supporting Pranab Mukherjee. The rift within the ruling alliance is something that the CPI(M) took into account when deciding its stand,” Karat has written.
He made it clear in the article that Bengal, the mother unit from which the party draws sustenance in the rest of the country, should be given priority. “One of the important tasks for the party is to defend the strongest base of the Left, which, in turn, will help the party and the Left to advance nationally,” he has written.
Karat has stressed on the same factor to outline his plans to co-operate with non-Congress secular parties to “build a Left and democratic alternative”. “Such an alternative requires the strengthening of the CPM and the Left as an independent force. The process of strengthening CPI(M) and the Left also requires the defence of the party and the Left movement in West Bengal, which is under severe attack,” Karat said.
The CPM general secretary has elaborated on the theme to suggest that any step other than supporting Mukherjee could have gone against the interests of the party in Bengal.
He dismissed suggestions that the party could have abstained from voting and said “abstention in this case would mean lining up with Mamata Banerjee and the TMC in West Bengal. This would be politically damaging and unacceptable”.
Furnishing further evidence of Karat employing a more political line, he said in the article that it was “necessary to utilise the conflicts and fissures within the ruling alliance between the bourgeoisie parties”.
Karat has tried to do so by painting the Congress as a Trinamul victim, making it now all the more difficult for Mamata to back Mukherjee, though the finance minister had sought the support of all parties.
The general secretary said Trinamul “is conducting a violent terror campaign against the CPI(M)” and that “even the Congress has not been spared”.
“The attack on democracy extends to all sections. Even the Congress is not spared. To take the same position as the TMC (in the presidential election) will only harm the interests of the Left and the fight against the TMC in West Bengal,” Karat has written.
Karat said Trinamul “has been at odds with the UPA government on various issues. While much of the conflict is posturing by the TMC, there is a deeper reason for it. In West Bengal, the TMC is working to marginalise the Congress and to appropriate its base, and is quite willing to resort to strong-arm methods to accomplish this objective”.
A section of Bengal comrades may be tempted to see in Karat’s article an indirect vindication of their stand that the withdrawal of support to the UPA-I was the principal reason for the Left debacle that followed. However, there is no suggestion yet that Karat, who belongs to the section that thinks the Left paid the price of its governance record and other internal problems, has changed his views on the topic.
Karat made the larger point that the forthcoming presidential election was not just a contest between Mukherjee and P.A. Sangma but “beneath the surface are stirrings and a churning process that presage a political realignment”.
He felt that regional parties were gaining ground here as they “are not bound to either of the major parties”. Besides, the presidential race has highlighted the “dependence of the Congress on outside forces to get its own candidate through”.