The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM sings Cong tune in run-up to polls

Calcutta, June 13: ‘Vote for the Congress.’ That is the CPM’s slogan for the Lok Sabha election due next year.

“We have to extend support to those political forces capable of defeating the BJP. We will ask our supporters to vote for such forces, and even the Congress, to thwart the BJP from coming to power at the Centre,” CPM politburo member and state unit secretary Anil Biswas said at the party headquarters on Alimuddin Street today.

Though the CPM adopted its pro-Congress line in its Calcutta party congress in 1998, the issue was discussed threadbare at last week’s central committee and politburo meetings here.

Biswas, however, made it clear that the party would not enter into a electoral alliance with the Congress during the Assembly elections. “We shall not seek any electoral tie-up with the Congress in the five states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Mizoram — that will go to poll in November,” he said.

The party considers the Congress a “major political force” in the country. Though a section of the leadership feels the Congress has “compromised” with non-secular forces, a larger section feels only Sonia Gandhi’s party can take on the BJP nationally.

Biswas said the CPM will work hard to prevent a split in the anti-BJP vote bank in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election to “oust the NDA government from power in Delhi”.

Political observers feel that the CPM’s proximity to the Congress can be attributed to the remote possibility of the emergence of a third front. However, one of the main proponents of the front, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda, had admitted last week that he was not too hopeful about its revival.

During his recent visit to the city, Gowda regretted the “sad demise” of the front despite serious efforts on the part of CPM leaders to rejuvenate it. “It is better to spend time on strengthening my own party rather than wasting time for the revival of the third front,” Gowda said.

Apart from supporting the Congress wherever the party’s candidates had “bright electoral prospects”, the CPM has decided not to field too many candidates in the five states in the Assembly polls. “If we put up too many candidates, the anti-BJP votes will be split,” said Biswas.

SUCI rape slur

Residents of Gurguri village in Kulatali, South 24-Parganas, today accused CPM cadre of raping an SUCI supporter. The SUCI also alleged that the victim’s husband, Netai Das, was beaten up. The CPM denied the allegations.

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