The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong rift brings out CPM’s dilemma

New Delhi, Oct. 2: The CPM central committee is renewing its anti-Congressism though some of its top leaders say the party should support Congress-led governments when the BJP is the main rival.

At a news conference here yesterday, CPM politburo member Prakash Karat said the party central committee had directed the Kerala committee to take whatever decision was necessary to ensure that the A.K. Antony government is brought down.

Without specifying if the CPM would help veteran dissident K. Karunakaran unseat the Kerala chief minister, Karat said the party would not prop up a government that fell under its own weight. “The Kerala state committee will take necessary steps if the Antony government does not last. We are not going to keep the government going,” he added.

At the national level, the CPM has not openly said if it will support a Congress-led government at the Centre. “The central committee will take up the party’s tactical line for the general elections after the Assembly polls,” Karat said.

But party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu have said the CPM should support the Congress in the Assembly elections.

Karat takes a different line, however.

“Our main task is to defeat the BJP. But we will also expose the Congress,” he says.

The central committee does not accept the Basu-Surjeet line and this was made clear when it virtually gave the Kerala committee the go-ahead for propping up Karunakaran. It did so even though its potentially ally — the Congress — is upset with the veteran for helping a CPM-backed Independent wrest the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat from the official Congress candidate in the recent byelection.

“The Antony government is one of the most repressive governments in recent times. It is playing with all hues of communal forces, from (the VHP leader) Praveen Togadia to Muslim fundamentalists,” Karat said.

But the CPM was not destabilising the Kerala government, he clarified. “We have not engineered any conflict.”

He said the CPM would support an alternative government headed by Karunakaran if it followed policies different from Anthony’s.

“We will (soon) see if a new alignment of forces takes place in the state,” Karat said.

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