Virtually snubbing CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat who is rooting for a Third Front, senior CPI (M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has not ruled out the possibility of extending support to the Congress to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power.
The 70-year-old former West Bengal chief minister's startling new remark before the media elicited varied responses from political parties pitted in multi-cornered contests in 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state this April-May.
Besides cocking a snook at Karat, Buddhadeb's pro-Congress stand is at variance with the CPI (M)'s election manifesto for the 2014 election, which gave a call to reject both the Congress and the BJP in
tune with its policy of equi-distance from the two national parties.
Buddhadeb declared that CPI (M) would support the Congress "if a situation like 2004 arises when we had to side with the Congress to stop the communal BJP".
Buddhadeb's soft corner for the Congress and the possibility of CPI (M) aligning with the Congress after the polls was also evident from his refusal to criticise Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi whom he called a "boy".
Buddhadeb justified his pro-Congress stance on the ground that the Congress was trailing the BJP. "This is not a welcome situation as far as the Left is concerned. We have to see how we can play a meaningful role and how we can form a secular, democratic and pro-people alternative".
On pre-poll surveys indicating BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rapid strides in the race, he said: "So what? That doesn't mean his policies are justified. And I have serious doubts about the findings of all these surveys and their methodology. Hitler had won an election in Germany in 1933. Does that mean his policies were right?"
Congress leaders said that the CPI (M) always clings to the Congress when it's drowning or it's existence is at stake. "The Congress has always fought its own battles. In the past, we didn't seek their support but they still extended their support," a senior Congress leader said.
According to the Trinamool, Buddhadeb's remarks hints at a secret Congress-CPI(M) nexus against Mamata Banerjee's party. A Trinamool leader said: "But the people of West Bengal disapprove of any
understanding between the Congress and the Left. That's why they have reposed their faith in us as we are opposed to both the parties."