Yechury loses, Karat wins, so does Modi
Calcutta: Sitaram Yechury's proposal to keep the pre-poll door ajar on the Congress was voted out emphatically by the CPM central committee on Sunday amid contested claims that the general secretary staked his job on the outcome of the floor test.
The rare vote and its expected outcome prompted some bitter pro-changers to privately accuse the hardliners of handing a victory to Narendra Modi and the BJP. But the rival camp cited the 2004 experiment - when outside support was offered to the UPA - and said a similar decision could be taken if the post-poll outcome warranted it.
Sources said the proposal from Yechury, the general secretary, had 31 backers while 55 members of the party's highest decision-making body gave the thumbs-down when it was put to vote in Calcutta.
The figures suggest Yechury failed to get the support of at least three members from the Bengal unit that is said to be mostly in favour of some kind of understanding with the Congress. Nor did Tripura support him, the sources said.
The defeat of Yechury's proposal means that the alternative, tabled by his predecessor Prakash Karat and opposing any pre-poll truck with the Congress, will be discussed at the party congress in April.
"We have resolved not to go into any kind of electoral alliance or political understanding with the Congress. This is a draft political resolution, discussed and adopted by the central committee, after incorporating some amendments for the party congress. The draft will be release for discussion in the party two months before the Hyderabad congress," Yechury told a news conference at Alimuddin Street.
"The division only proves there is internal democracy within the party. Do not try to read too much into it."
But sources said the day was marked by several dramatic moments. "There were attempts to avoid voting and the Yechury camp asked that both proposals be taken to the party congress. But the Karat camp insisted on taking only one. Before the voting, Yechury made an appeal in favour of his proposal and said its defeat would make his position untenable," said a source.
"Leaders like Bengal secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra persuaded Yechury to stay on and a crisis was averted."
But some party sources said Yechury had not offered to resign. "The hardliners don't want another term for Yechury, so they're spreading this theory," a source said.
Asked if he had offered to resign, Yechury said: "I'm briefing the media as the party general secretary."