After calling for 'broadest possible' secular front, Yechury distances himself from Congress

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury congratulates Kodiyeri Balakrishnan after being selected as the CPM State Secretary for the third time in a row. Photo: EV Sreekumar

A day after he said that the CPM wanted the “broadest possible front of secular forces”, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury interpreted his remark in such a way that it would not be understood that he somehow wanted the Congress to be part of the grand Left-Secular anti-BJP alliance.

“I have not said it (the alliance) will not be possible without the Congress nor have I said it will be possible without the Congress,” Yechury said on Thursday, while interacting with the media on the sidelines of the 23rd Party Congress in Kannur.

His clarification comes right after reports emerged that the Kerala CPM contingent had made discordant noises about the inclusion of the Congress party in such an alliance during the deliberations held as part of the ongoing 23rd Party Congress. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had made it abundantly clear in January itself that the CPM was looking for an alliance of regional parties to upstage the BJP.

Yechury also gave a spin to the advice he had given the Congress party during the inaugural of the Party Congress. He had said that the Congress party should put its house in order and should end its “prevarications and compromising attitude towards communalism”, a clear hint that the Congress would be valuable if it corrected its ideological deviations.

On Thursday, however, Yechury expressed suspicions about the Congress mending its ways, as if he thought the Congress was hopeless. He saw the Congress' refusal to allow its leaders to participate in the seminar organised as part of the Party Congress as a sign of the Congress's anti-secular approach. “This was a seminar on secularism and if the Congress has refused permission to leaders like Mani Shankar Iyer and Shashi Tharoor to attend such a seminar, shouldn't it be clear to everyone where they stand on an issue like secularism,” Yechury said.

Yet, the CPM general secretary was not ready to fully rule out the presence of the Congress in the Left-Secular alliance. He said that the proposed national-level anti-BJP Left-Secular alliance would emerge only after the 2024 elections. In the meantime, he said his party would attempt to forge pre-poll understandings at the state level. “In every state in India, there are parties that enjoy the confidence of the people. The DMK in Tamil Nadu, the NCP-Shiv Sena combine in Maharashtra, Telangana Rashtriya Congress in Telangana, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and Biju Janata Dal in Odisha,” he said. “We want to maximise the pooling of anti-BJP votes,” he added.

Though he wanted the CPM to strike alliances with these regional forces, Yechury conceded that he had no idea “what these secular forces want”. He said that India was so diverse politically that a clear picture would appear only after the general elections.

“Never has a coalition government in India been formed on the basis of a front that was formed before elections. Janata Party was formed after the defeat of Indira Gandhi in 1977. When V P Singh became Prime Minister, the national Front-Left Front alliance was formed in the post-poll scenario. Deve Gowda became Prime Minister of the United Front which was formed after A B Vajpayee lost the trust vote in the Parliament. In 1998, Vajpayee became Prime Minister of a formation, the NDA, which was formed after the election,” Yechury said.

Similarly, he said there would not be an all-India formation before the elections in 2024. “There will of course be many groups claiming to be the alternative front or the third or fourth front. But the true nature of the formation will be revealed only after the elections,” Yechury said.

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