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Hurdles for secular alternative to be removed


The statement by KPCC President President Mullappally Ramachandran that if CPM eschews violence the Congress is ready for an understanding with CPM in Kerala too,  was quickly followed by disagreements from within the Congress itself.    Former KPCC president MM Hassan commented that CPM and BJP which have politics of violence as their philosophy are the chief foes of Congress.  Another former KPCC President K Muraleedharan also has come out against Mullappally's statement.

Given that there is slim change of a mutual understanding of any kind between CPM, which is the flagship party of the ruling front,  and Congress,  the leading party of the Opposition front,  it would be more reasonable to see Mullappally's pronouncement as part of election campaign.   In the background of the CBI's indictment of P Jayarajan, CPM's Kannur district secretary,  and CPM's MLA TV Rajesh in the Ariyil Shukkoor murder case,  the Congress may intensify its effort to drive home its contention that CPM is a party  that has theoretically embraced violence – the implication being that the Congress keeps a distance from CPM mainly because that party will never able to renounce violence.

On the other hand,  CPM's  state secretary argues that the CBI indictment of the Marxist leaders in the Shukkoor murder case is the result of a conspiracy by Congress and BJP.  And Congress and CPM keep accusing each other of a nexus with BJP too,  although at the national level both parties see BJP as the main enemy.  At the CPM  Polit Bureau (PB)  that met in Delhi last week,  the party stated its three objectives in the upcoming general election:  one, defeat the BJP alliance,  two,  increase the strength of CPM and the Left front in Lok Sabha,  andthree, ensure an alternative secular government coming to power in the Centre.   Nowhere in PB's declared decisions does it state defeating Congress as an objective.   Not only that,  in West Bengal where the party is not yet a fully spent force,  a green signal has been given for reaching understanding with Congress against Trinamool Congress and BJP.   This indicates that however strongly it may oppose Congress's politcies,  CPM is still counting Congress basically as one among secular parties.  It can also be reasonably assumed that if post-poll BJP is not able to form a government,   CPM will support,  as it did earlier,  a secular alliance under the leadership of the Congress.   No doubt,  the CPM stance is a realistic one.  If the party has to retain its existence and status as a national party,  it has to bank on Kerala to get the highest possible number of MP's.  And that has to be achieved by defeating the main Opposition, UDF.  Although a solution is possible by both fronts reaching an understanding to divide the total of 20 seats between them,   neither side is capable of thinking loud to that extent.

Given that the Congress has no illusions about winning absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections,  it is aiming at becoming the largest single party.  Only then can the Congress receive the first call to form a government from the  President, an BJP nominee.  And the Congress's endeavours to maximise its number of seats from Kerala through the current UDF coalition, which the Congress dominates,  is aimed at this eventuality.  Still,  the cardinal anxiety of secular-included forces is,  whether in a situation where there is a slight edge for the BJP to win through the division of secular votes,  UDF and LDF will devise strategy to ensure the defeat of the chief enemy.    In Tamil Nadu, it is almost certain that Congress and Communist parties will alike be with the DMK front.  In Bihar too,  this time Communist parties are likely to be part of the grand alliance in which congress is a constituent.  Already in Rajasthan,  CPM's two legislators are supporting the Congress government.  However,  if the CPM and Congress come to realize that the coming election will be the last possible opportunity to avert a great disaster of the county and to oust the ultra-Hindutva collective - which is committed to re-writing and overturning the country' secular democratic constitution – they will relegate every other point of disagreement to the second place.   And if they fail to do that,  the history of secular India will not forgive them.

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