CPI(M) decides to stay out of INDIA coordination committee
The will, however, remain a part of the INDIA coalition formed by opposition parties to fight the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) will stay out of the coordination committee of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) but will remain a part of the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition formed by national and state parties for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the party’s politburo decided at its meeting held in Delhi on Saturday and Sunday, leaders familiar with the matter said.
“Efforts should be focused to further expand the INDIA bloc and also to draw in significant sections of the people’s movements in this effort. While all decisions will be taken by the leaders of the constituents, there should be no organisational structures that will be an impediment for such decisions,” the politburo said in a statement. It did not mention the coordination committee or the CPI(M)’s decision to stay out of it.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took part in the three meetings the coalition leaders earlier held in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
Although CPI(M) nominated members to the less significant committees of the coalition, such as the campaign committee and social media committee, speculations started when it did not send anyone to the coordination committee which held its first meeting in Delhi on September 13 and decided that seat-sharing among partners would be worked out at state level only.
The fact that both Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Congress are part of INDIA has made things difficult for the CPI(M), its leaders said.
In Bengal, the CPI(M) and Congress are electoral allies and treat BJP and TMC as political adversaries. In Kerala, where the CPI(M) is in power, it is an adversary of the Congress. These are the two states where CPI(M) has maximum presence although in Bengal, where it ruled for 34 years, the communists currently have no MLA or MP.
In August, the CPI(M) central committee allowed its Bengal unit to contest against the TMC in 2024 while letting other state units to formulate strategies that suit the purpose of INDIA. This was the first time a coalition partner took a formal decision against another.
Md Salim, CPI(M)’s West Bengal state committee secretary and a politburo member, avoided talking on the party’s political compulsions while explaining the stand the politburo took over the weekend.
“Politburo took the decision because parties in the INDIA alliance have decided that seat-sharing in 2024 will be at state level. Our leaders had been saying all along that there is no need to form a separate political structure such as coordination committee within the alliance,” Salim told HT.
“We see this (INDIA) as a mass movement against the BJP. We feel that all parties should come together and campaign jointly. If there is no seat adjustment at the national level then what is the purpose of this coordination committee? We will attend the next meeting of the INDIA alliance leaders as we did earlier. In the meantime, we should all hit the streets,” Salim added.
The ground reality in Bengal became evident on September 13 when the coordination committee met. As a member of the committee, Abhishek Banerjee, TMC national general secretary and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, could not attend the meet because he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on that day in the bribe-for-job scam case.
While leaders of the Congress and other parties kept an empty chair at the meeting to symbolically mark the TMC’s presence and accused the Centre of targeting INDIA partners, in Bengal, state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and CPI(M)’s Salim targeted the TMC.
Koustav Bagchi, a Bengal Congress leader, even sent an e-mail to Congress national general secretary K C Venugopal saying “standing in solidarity with tyrants and scamsters is an insult to party workers in Bengal.”
On Monday, Abhishek Banerjee did not make any remark against the CPI(M) while reacting to its decision to stay out of the coordination committee.
“We have invited all parties to join this movement and fight unitedly against the BJP. If the CPI(M) or any party from others states take a different stand then it is entirely their internal matter,” the TMC MP said in Kolkata.
This was not the first time he avoided a confrontation with INDIA partners in Bengal.
Prior to the September 5 Dhupguri assembly bypoll, both Chowdhury and Salim targeted the TMC during their campaign but Banerjee did not utter a word against them.
The BJP has set a target of winning 35 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2024, up from the 18 it bagged in 2019.
Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said the CPI(M) is desperately trying to protect its existence, especially in Bengal where it has lost political ground.
“The differences and dilemmas project the real picture of this so-called alliance. Posters of the INDIA campaign are being put up across Bengal with photos of Yechury and TMC leaders. This drama cannot go on forever,” said Bhattacharya.