Karat links Basu’s Press meet, UP bypoll to stonewall relations with Cong

Citing a 25-year-old press conference by late Jyoti Basu and Uttar Pradesh bypoll results, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat has once again upped the ante over the electoral tactics to take on the BJP.

Karat has used the latest editorial in the party mouthpiece ‘Peoples Democracy’, which he edits, to argue that Congress has “no credibility” to lead an all-India alliance, as parties like BJD, TDP and TRS are not be ready to be a partner in an alliance under its leadership.

The editorial written by Karat analysing the victory of Samajwadi Party in the bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur has said the lesson learnt from the results is that the “effective way” to take on the BJP is “not by forging an all-India alliance or front” of opposition parties.

Congress hopes to build an extended UPA-style alliance to counter the BJP. However, this will not succeed. The Congress has no credibility to lead such an alliance in terms of an alternative programme,” it predicted.

Amid questions how a strident anti-Congress could help in defeating BJP, Karat has interestingly invoked the late Marxist veteran from Bengal and his campaigning in 1993 the UP Assembly polls held after Babri Masjid demolition. Basu had in a press conference in Varanasi then given a call to vote for candidates who can defeat BJP.

This was in essence calling for the pooling of votes of all the anti-BJP forces,” the editorial said adding the SP-BSP combine formed government defeating incumbent BJP.

The reference to Basu assumes significance as the Bengal unit is opposed to Karat’s line of excluding Congress, which they vociferously raised in the recently concluded State Conference. Reference to Basu is seen as an attempt by Karat to address cadres in Bengal, who argue for General Secretary Sitaram Yechury’s line of keeping the electoral doors open.

While the editorial argues that Congress is unacceptable to other parties, it also referred to party’s “general campaign” to defeat BJP in 1993 elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where Congress was its main opponent.

Karat’s opponents find this argument “contradictory” and said at one point he is saying that Congress cannot be made part of any efforts to counter BJP but at the same time talk about general campaign to defeat BJP that helps Congress.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 23, 2018)

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