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Veterans clash at CPI-M conclave over party’s poll debacle in West Bengal

At the meeting, Surjyakanta Mishra, former Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, was charged with being "architect of the massive electoral defeat" for the party and "embarrassment" for his insisting for the alliance with the Congress

A major clash between members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the “Bengal brigade” broke out at the three-day central committee meet of the party here where veterans also exchanged heated words over the party’s poll debacle in West Bengal.

At the meeting, Surjyakanta Mishra, former Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, was charged with being “architect of the massive electoral defeat” for the party and “embarrassment” for his insisting for the alliance with the Congress.

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

The issue figured prominently during the two-day meeting on Saturday and Sunday wherein the hardliner camp 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 said.

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.

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