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Yechury wants tie-up but won't name Cong

A CPM march in Calcutta on Tuesday against the demolition of a Lenin statue in Tripura. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Calcutta: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday reiterated the need for unity among all secular and democratic forces to combat the BJP-RSS combine, the repeated stress underscoring his attempt to garner support for a pre-poll truck with the Congress.

"I am crystal clear in seeking cooperation from all secular and democratic forces in our fight against the anti-democratic, anti-communist fascist forces like the BJP-RSS combine," Yechury told a news conference on Day Two of the CPM state conference in the run up to the party congress in April.

Although he did not mention the Congress even once during the 23-minute news conference, where most questions were linked to the CPM's tactical line for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sources in the Left party said he was rooting for the pro-Congress line.

In January, the pro-Congress line was defeated in a floor test at the CPM central committee meeting, where Yechury's ideological bete-noire Prakash Karat's draft proposal of no pre-poll truck with the Congress was adopted.

"It is clear that Yechury had the Congress in his mind when he spoke of larger unity. As the pro-Congress line has been defeated, ideally, the general secretary should have stuck to the draft proposal and said with clarity that there would be no connection with the Congress. He didn't do that," said a CPM insider.

Later, when more questions on the CPM's stand on the Congress were raised, Yechury's reply was ambivalent, which party sources said was an attempt to keep the Congress door ajar.

"We can talk about and debate the pre-poll truck at the time of elections, but an alliance is the need of the hour," Yechury said.

The CPM state secretary and politburo member, Surjya Kanta Mishra, who was seated next to Yechury, acknowledged that the state conference discussions revolved around this topic.

"The state conference was inclined towards the pro-Congress lobby, going by the Bengal line, but hardliners that dominated the Calcutta district committee argued for the official draft political proposal for the party congress," a state committee member said.

Rajya Sabha polls

Surjya Kanta Mishra said the CPM had agreed to support an Independent fifth candidate for the ensuing Rajya Sabha polls. Asked who would choose the independent candidate - the Congress or the CPM, the state secretary said: "Talks are on with the Congress but we are yet to arrive on a consensus over the candidate."

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