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Telangana crack in Left unity

Minister of state for tourism Chiranjeevi (right) at a Congress election committee meeting for Seemandhra in Hyderabad on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, April 1: The CPI is set to sew up an alliance with the Congress in Telangana, sweeping aside the reservations of the CPM in what could be a double whammy for the Left “big brother” after the snub in Kerala.

The RSP, a junior partner in the Left bloc, has joined hands with the Congress-led UDF in the southern state.

The CPI is likely to contest one Lok Sabha seat and 10 Assembly constituencies in Telangana in alliance with the Congress. If it does, it would go against the CPM’s “reject Congress, defeat BJP” call that ironically also happens to be the CPI slogan.

Sources said the CPM’s central leaders as well as those in Andhra Pradesh had appealed to the CPI not to go ahead with the alliance, even if it was limited to Telangana, as it would send a wrong message. The CPM and the CPI have both given a call to “reject” and “oust” the Congress in their party manifesto for the upcoming national elections.

But the CPI appears to be on track to firming up the alliance with the Congress.

“We will talk to the CPI in a day or two. The CPI appears to be in talks with the Congress but they haven’t finalised (the deal) yet,” CPM Telangana secretary P. Madhu said, asked if the CPI was breaking Left unity.

CPM sources said the disunity in the Left camp was bound to affect prospects in Kerala, where the comrades are eyeing the maximum number of seats.

The erosion in the CPM’s authority within the Left is being attributed to the setbacks in Bengal and Kerala. For decades, the CPM has been the undisputed leader of the bloc and informally decided the electoral strategies of the other three Left parties — the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc.

CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, however, saw the development in Telangana as an “exception” to the rule.

“The adjustment has not happened yet. Talks are on. We are trying for a wider alliance between the Congress, TRS and the CPI,” he said.

The Telangana development, he added, wouldn’t influence the CPI’s nationwide call to “oust the Congress” and “defeat the BJP”.

“Don’t call it alliance. It is seat-sharing because of a peculiar situation in Telangana,” Reddy said.

The CPM has consistently opposed the division of Andhra, arguing that it was against the division of states created on linguistic grounds. The CPI, on the other hand, is in favour of a separate Telangana state because it feels the development of the backward region is not possible under a united Andhra.

“The seat-sharing is for unity among parties that had fought for a Telangana state. Outside, we remain firm on our anti-Congress stand,” Reddy, who is from the Telangana region, said.

Under Prakash Karat, the CPM has pursued an aggressive anti-Congress line and top party leaders rule out even a post-poll alliance with the party to keep the BJP out. These leaders believe that if the CPI joins hands with the Congress, even if the alliance is limited to Telangana, it would have an effect on the electoral show in other parts of the country.

“The CPI was so aggressive against the Congress that it did not support Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for President. Now it’s amazing it is aligning with the Congress,” said a CPM leader.

The CPM had supported Mukherjee’s candidature.

Bengal plea

A CPM delegation today met the Election Commission, seeking its intervention in Bengal to ensure “free and fair” polls.

Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said the leaders informed the commission about the alleged “terror and intimidation” by the ruling Trinamul Congress.

“Despite the terror tactics, the Left Front had polled 39 per cent of the votes in the panchayat elections. If there is free and fair election, we will increase our percentage,” Yechury said.

He said the commission officials assured the delegation that steps would be taken for free and fair elections in the state.