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Bengal rout: CPI(M) leader Jagmati Sangwan storms out of Central Committee

Alliance with Congress in West Bengal assembly polls has divided the CPI(M). The Karat camp has been gunning for general secretary Sitaram Yechury even before the election results were out

CPI(M)’s alliance with Congress in the recent West Bengal assembly polls seems to be creating fissures within the party.

During the central committee meeting on Monday, Jagmati Sangwan, a member walked out and announced to the waiting TV journalists that she was resigning in protest against the deviation of the party line taken earlier.

An emotional Sangwan said she was quitting in protest against the central committee’s inability to take action against the West Bengal unit.

She said the understanding the CPI(M) had with Congress was against the political line adopted at the last party Congress at Visakhapatanam in April 2015.

The Central Committee soon announced that Sangwan has been expelled from the primary membership of the party for gross indiscipline.

Sangwan is  also the secretary of the All India Democratic Women Association and was elected to the Central Committee at last year’s party congress.

A PhD holder in Sociology, Sangwan was a national level volleyball player who has represented India in international events. She has worked to create awareness against female foeticide and crimes against women. She has also campaigned extensively against the Khap panchayats of Haryana.

The three day meet of CPI(M)’s highest decision making body has been stormy.

Leaders from Kerala, Assam and Tripura favoured adopting resolutions under which the Bengal brigade “should own up their responsibility” for the alliance.

Surjayakanta Misra, former Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, who is said to have been the main votary of the “electoral understanding” with the Congress party in Bengal came under attack from various members at the meeting which began on Saturday.

The issue figured prominently on Saturday and Sunday wherein the hardliner camp aligned to former general secretary Prakash Karat asked why the party’s Bengal unit insisted on the alliance with Congress in total contravention of the party resolutions adopted earlier not to have any ties with the party at the state level.

In fact, a few top Kerala leaders, including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said for the CPI-M, both the BJP and the Congress were “equal enemies”.

At this, Mishra is learnt to have said that despite the humbling, the CPI-M could poll as high as 2.15 crore votes in Bengal and this was “much higher than any other state”.

The remarks predictably provoked the leaders from Kerala and other states, including Assam.

At one point of time during Saturday’s deliberations, even party general secretary Sitaram Yechury had to intervene and reprimand a few leaders who were insisting on “admission” of failure by the Bengal camp.

Mishra was at times supported by party leaders from West Bengal but others kept on insisting that unlike Bengal, no where else the party decided to oppose the well established and traditional party line of having no ties with the Congress.

“Comrade Prakash Karat and many others opposed the alliance with Congress. Leaders from Tripura and Kerala said this would send a wrong signal at the ground level; yet Bengal leaders led by Biman Bose and Mishra insisted on the understanding with the Congress. We have paid a big price,” a party leader told IANS.

The dismal performance in Bengal has weakened Yechury’s position in the party. The Prakash Karat camp who had opposed Yechury’s election to the top post has been targeting him ever since he supported the Bengal unit’s “Jote” with the Congress party..

At least 60 members in the 91-member central committee are said to be against the “Bengal brigade” for having decided in favour of the informal alliance with the Congress.

Some members, especially from Kerala and Tripura, said in the meeting that Bengal team and especially leaders like Mishra and Bose could not justify the alliance with the Congress as “winning elections cannot be the sole objective” of the CPI-M.

(With IANS inputs)

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