After weeks of debate between party chief Sitaram Yechury and his predecessor Prakash Karat over their party's political tactics for the next three years, there were on Monday indications of a rapproachment within the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The truce came in the wake of a show of strength from Yechury that the rival camp had not anticipated.
Of the 63 who attended the central committee meeting here in New Delhi, 32 supported Karat. The former party chief wants CPI (M) to persist with its 2015 political resolution, which had identified the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the party's principal enemy, but has also said that there could be no truck with the Congress since that party's neo-liberal policies had brought the BJP to power.
However, as many as 31 central committee members spoke in favour of Yechury's argument that the principal enemy was the BJP, and the CPI (M) at this juncture needed to be part of a broad national alternative of left, secular and democratic forces to challenge that party. By virtue of it being a pan-India party and the chief opposition party to the BJP in most of the states, the Congress would be a part of such a platform.
According to sources, of the 32 who supported Karat, at least two were ambivalent. Yechury found support not just from delegates from north Indian states, but also some of the delegates from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Former Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan and Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac supported Yechury.
The near vertical division led the central committee decide against taking a vote. It issued a communique that makes an effort at reconciling both the Karat as well as Yechury lines. Before the central committee had met, a majority of the polit bureau members had voted against the Yechury line, but had forwarded both the outlines to the central committee.
The party communique issued on Monday after the conclusion of the central committee meeting stated that it has "authorized the polit bureau to prepare the draft political resolution for the 22nd Congress on the basis of the polit bureau outline and the discussions in the central committee."
Yechury and his supporters have interpreted the last line of the communique as clearly a victory for its stand, and plan to build on the momentum. The victory has been sweeter since it has come in the wake of media reports in Kerala that Yechury has lost support within the party and might quit.
The polit bureau is now slated to meet on December 9 and 10. It will further discuss the draft political resolution, which will then be taken up at the central committee meeting from January 19 to 21. The CPI (M)'s 22nd party congress, its intra party conclave, would meet from April 18 to 22 in Hyderabad where a total of 765 elected delegates will discuss the politial resolution that will dictact party's tactics in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Acceptance of the Yechury line would give party state units the space to decide whether they should ally with regional parties if the Congress is also part of such an alliance. This is crucial for the Tamil Nadu party unit if it wants to contest future elections in alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which is part of the Congress-led UPA.