The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Surjeet backs Congress

New Delhi, June 7: The refrain is back. CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet is once again rooting for the Congress as an alternative to the BJP at the Centre.

In the latest issue of CPM mouthpiece People’s Democracy, Surjeet writes: “An understanding with the Congress boils down to defending national unity and communal harmony. Today, this is all the more necessary for various reasons.” He says the BJP is trying all “possible means to win the November Assembly elections and may go in for snap polls if it wins this round. This has to be thwarted”.

Relations between the Congress and the Left soured after the former hesitated to support the Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh last year after the Mayavati government ran into trouble.

Surjeet had criticised the Congress for its indecision.

But for now, the general secretary is keeping his criticism of the Congress to the minimum, with an eye on the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. “Compared to the BJP’s rank communalism, Congress is mostly a secular party. It does compromise and vacillate, but we can not legitimately bracket the Congress with the BJP,” he said.

The general secretary noted that the Congress was the BJP’s main adversary in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh which go to the polls in November.

“Only the Congress is in a position to defeat the BJP there,” he added.

Dispelling speculation that the Left would include the Congress in a third front, Surjeet says: “An understanding with the Congress for defeating the BJP does not mean it will be like the third front we visualise.”

The Left has always been at a loss on how to strike the right balance between its pro- and anti-Congress stands. It criticises the party for supporting liberalisation and pursuing a soft-Hindutva line, but at the same time, says only the Congress can stitch up an alternative to the BJP-led government.

“All Left, secular and democratic forces must play an active role in this situation. Any faltering here will be disastrous for the country,” says Surjeet. “In today’s situation, whatever understanding we have with the Congress will be limited. But it will be an extremely crucial step for defeating the BJP and ousting it from power,” the general secretary adds.

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