Congress-CPM tie-up: Will the ripples be felt in Kerala?- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Confined to a shrinking political space in the country’s political landscape, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is finally taking the plunge to join hands with the Congress, that too in West Bengal, an erstwhile ‘red’ fortress where both have been arch rivals for decades.

The million dollar question now is how such a move would impact the political scenario in Kerala.

As far as the ruling Left in Kerala is concerned, it would be a Herculean task to explain the socalled seat-sharing understanding with the Congress in Bengal, while the two parties are leading rival political fronts in Kerala.

This would obviously be the biggest campaign tool for the saffron party in the state.

The politically literate mass base in Kerala is what the CPM has been pinning its hopes on. Going for a secular collective ‘to take on the bigger threat of communalism propagated by the Sangh Parivar’ is how the Left would like to put it. However the timing could be difficult to explain.

In both 2016 and 2019, the West Bengal CPM wanted to join hands with the Congress. But it was the Kerala leadership that opposed the move.

“Why not then and why now? It’s not due to ideological reasons, but rather a quest for power. The Left has long been accusing the Congress of toeing a soft Hindutva line in Kerala. With its latest stance in the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, the Congress has leaned more towards Hindutva,” observed Left commentator J Prabhash.

More than the alliance per se, the Left would also have to explain about the timing of such a decision. Had the party opted for such an alliance at least in the 2019 elections, it would have been more logical, as the party would have been convincing in its explanation to its Kerala voters. Now, however this may come across more as a move to grab power at any cost.

The Congress may not experience similar qualms, as it could probably don the role of the leading partner. But the Kerala CPM will have to sweat it out to convince the masses, that too at a time when it has been constantly harping on an unholy nexus between the BJP and the UDF in the state. The CPM hopes to portray it as a political sacrifice of sorts.

PB member MA Baby said that the CPM’s understanding with the Congress in other states would naturally affect the Congress in Kerala.

“Realising that the BJP has been growing to be a bigger threat than imagined, the CPM has been bringing together non- BJP parties.

The Congress in Kerala has been continuously trying to lend legitimacy to the BJP, raising the same slogans as the BJP.

The Congress in Kerala has been trying to weaken the Left, even going to the extent of rejecting its national leadership.

It is the Congress that would find it difficult to justify its pro-BJP stance to the voters. This is what the Left is going to explain to the politically literate electorate in Kerala,” said Baby.

Curiously, the historical decision by the CPM to go for electoral understanding with the Congress was not taken unanimously.

According to sources, three members in the 94-member Central Committee opposed the move while seven others kept away from voting.

Two Kerala leaders - Elamaram Kareem and P K Sreemathy - along with G Nagaiha voted against the move, it’s learnt.

Seven leaders, including A K Padmanabhan and Vijoo Krishan kept away. Others who desisted from voting include Sreenivasa Rao and S Veeraiah.

Tough task for CPM
The CPM Kerala unit will have to sweat it out to convince the masses, that too at a time when it has
been constantly harping on an unholy nexus between the BJP and the UDF in the state.