Oppn parties upset with CPI(M)

Divergent views on participating in opposition programmes in the CPI(M) have forced the party to skip Sunday’s RJD rally in Patna but this decision has not gone down well with opposition parties,

Such optics will derail the fight against the Narendra Modi-led government and absence of a “credible party” like CPI(M) would only enthuse the opponent, which is on a weak wicket following the large-scale violence in Haryana and Supreme Court verdict on right to privacy, opposition leaders argued.

Besides CPI(M), the Lalu rally would also not have the presence of top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as well as BSP chief Mayawati.

Even as Left ally CPI chose to join Lalu Prasad’s ‘BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao’ rally, a senior RJD leader bluntly told CPI(M) leaders that their action is weakening the opposition and was nothing less than what JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar did. The leader said that JD(U) back-stabbed the Grand Alliance and CPI(M) is now giving a leeway to opponents when a rally is being organised in Kumar’s backyard.

A section in Congress and other parties said the CPI(M) decision reflected the division within the party, which intensified after its Central Committee decision not to renominate General Secretary Sitaram Yechury to Rajya Sabha for a third term.

Sources said the question before CPI(M) is whether to “grab the opportunity (to fight BJP) or let it go” when the party is not in a prime position. “At present, we are not in a prime position. We need to be seen as relevant and we should use all opportunities,” a senior CPI(M) leader said.

There was a view in the party that the CPI(M) should attend the rally to showcase Opposition unity but a section in the central leadership was adamant that the party should stay away. Their argument was that it would be seen as an electoral platform and sharing space with “corrupt” politicians would not do any good.

Sources said reasoning that this was not an electoral platform did not cut much ice with others even as they pointed out the dichotomy in not attending the Lalu rally while providing “silent” support for YSR Congress, whose chief Jagan Mohan Reddy had publicly appreciated Modi, in the recent bypolls.

The CPI, which usually take a common line with CPI(M) on such issues, taking a different approach is also seen as a setback for the main Left party that usually sets the narrative.

This was not the first time that differences surfaced in CPI(M)’s central leadership over participating in opposition programmes. Questions were raised over Yechury being named as a member of Sharad Yadav-led opposition committee on saving composite culture.

There will also be questions over the participation of Yechury in the August 30 conference in Indore called by Sharad Yadav, who had publicly acknowledged that the Left leader had suggested the idea of a conference on composite culture.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 27, 2017)

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