The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM debates support to Cong

Calcutta, Nov. 14: The CPM leadership today addressed the issue of offering support to the Congress in the Assembly elections coming up in Andhra Pradesh and five other states.

Contesting the line of support for the Congress advocated by former chief minister Jyoti Basu and party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, a section of the CPM warned that “over-dependence” on the Congress was among the factors responsible for the Left’s stagnation.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of the central committee, politburo member Sitaram Yechury argued that the party should take a line that helps expand the Left base.

“We have remained confined to Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, even after successfully installing a few friendly governments in the Centre,” Yechury said. “We have to adopt a line which is in tune with our individuality. We must not be regarded a satellite to the Congress.” Basu and Surjeet did not speak.

But Yechury and several central committee members echoed the support-Congress line when they said the party cannot field candidates even in 10 per cent of the Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh and could consider supporting the Congress in areas where it cannot take on the Telugu Desam on its own.

The impending elections in Andhra dominated the meeting at CPM’s Alimuddin Street office today. “Our main objective is to defeat the TDP-BJP combine. So we are trying to find out a strategy by which the party achieves maximum gains in the ensuing polls in Andhra,” said a central committee member.

At yesterday’s politburo meeting, leaders had said the CPM would not have a pact with the Congress but would field its own candidates in the five states scheduled to go to polls on November 30 and December 1. The election in Andhra Pradesh is likely to be held early next year.

While presenting the draft of the discussions, Surjeet had said yesterday that the CPM need not contest too many seats in the Assembly polls but that the party would like to win most of the seats it contests.

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