NEW DELHI: The reported hints from CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury on the eve of the party plenum in Kolkata, about a possible alliance with the Congress ahead of the West Bengal assembly polls in the early part of the coming year, drew a rather lukewarm response from the grand old party in New Delhi.
AICC general secretary in-charge of West Bengal CP Joshi, still quietly basking in the glory of the party’s reasonably good showing in Bihar polls of which he was the in-charge, said: “We have not got any official communication from them (CPI-M) yet, the issue has not even come up for discussion in our party. I’m also reading it in the papers.” It’s in alliance with the Congress that incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress trounced the 34-year-old Left Front government in West Bengal.
Much has happened since — the TMC and Congress parted ways, first in the State and then at the Centre; Meanwhile Congress pockets in the north of the state, sustained even during the height of Left Front/Jyoti Basu rule, have been slowly slipping away.
Banerjee has, of late, re-built bridges with the Congress high command, making it a point to meet Sonia Gandhi on her last birthday. Even the party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi did not hide his admiration for Banerjee. “If you ask me, I’m all for Mamata. She has come up through hard struggle. But our State Unit leaders have a different view, we cannot go against their wishes or sentiments. We have to factor in their views,” Rahul told this correspondent during a group interaction about a month ago. Yechury, too, has a good equation with both Sonia and Rahul.
But the Left has never had pre-poll alliance with the Congress before. Reiterating a similar view, Joshi told Express that the party has not taken any view on Bengal alliance. “It is too early in the day. But our party’s state unit does not want to go with the TMC,” he admitted, quickly adding that the final view would be taken by the Congress high command.
Joshi, who also has the charge of Assam, a key state for the Congress which is going to polls at the same time, hinted that he may not be in-charge of both the poll-bound states. An AICC reshuffle is expected in early 2016.