The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM split on ties with Congress

New Delhi, Sept. 30: The CPMs Kerala state committee is at odds with the partys central leadership over backing Congress dissident K. Karunakaran.

The state committees are sticking to their traditional anti-Congress stance at a time when CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu are rooting for the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Pinaraiyi Vijayan, politburo member and Kerala state secretary, today said the CPM in the southern state would back Karunakaran if he quit the Congress and formed an alternative government.

Vijayans response came barely a day after the Congress lost the Ernakulam seat to the CPM primarily because Karunakaran and his faction worked overtime against party candidate M.. John. The octogenarian Congress leader went out of his way to help the CPM wrest the seat from the Congress.

State-level political compulsions have always spurred the state committees in Bengal and Kerala to oppose any strategy that would force them to tone down their anti-Congressism.

Bengal overcame much of its dilemma after the Trinamul Congress replaced the Congress as the CPMs main adversary in the state. But Kerala is still grappling with the contradiction of fighting the Congress as its principal enemy in the state while its top leadership cosies to Sonia Gandhi.

The Kerala CPM state committee wants to square up with the Congress by backing a dissident who would hurt the party both in the state and at the Centre. CPM-Congress camaraderie could be jolted if Karunakaran succeeded in putting together an alternative government in Kerala with the CPMs help. His chances, however, appear slim at the moment.

According to the CPM, each state committee is guided by its own state-level political compulsions but these, the party feels, should not come into play while working out an arrangement to have an alternative government at the Centre.

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