The attempt is to keep Modi out of premiership

Ahead of the crucial last two phases of polling in 33 West Bengal constituencies, CPI veteran A.B. Bardhan has set the cat among the pigeons, suggesting the inclusion of arch-rival Trinamool Congress in the “third alternative” to keep the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, out.

His remarks to a Malayalam television channel soon gained traction, forcing the CPI Central Secretariat to issue a statement that the TMC led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is “actually helping the BJP by polarising” voters in West Bengal on communal lines. “Her attack on the BJP is a got-up game,” the CPI said in reference to the heated exchanges between the TMC and the BJP.

Earlier in the day, CPI (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat also described, in an article to be published in the forthcoming issue of the party organ, People’s Democracy, the BJP-TMC exchange as a “shadow war of words.”

The CPI statement does not mention Mr. Bardhan’s remarks but refers to “unfounded statements” attributed to party leaders about future constituents of the possible non-Congress, non-BJP alliance.

Faced with similar questions last weekend, Mr. Karat refused to be drawn in. “We will have to wait and see because it is a party which has earlier had no hesitation to go with the BJP. Her attitude to Modi will become clear only after the elections,” he said.

The Left and the TMC are engaged in a bitter fight in the State, where the CPI(M) has alleged large-scale rigging by the ruling party in the April 30 phase of polling. The Muslim vote — in the vicinity of 30 per cent — is key to both and speculation is rife on their coming together at the Centre to keep Mr. Modi out of premiership in a repeat of the kind of support Uttar Pradesh arch rivals — the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party — have given to the United Progressive Alliance.

“The BJP is criticising and at the same time wooing Mamata Banerjee as seen in the approach and speeches of Narendra Modi and [party president] Rajnath Singh.”

Accusing the BJP and the Trinamool of indulging in “competitive communal politics,” Mr. Karat said in his article: “Thus the fight against the BJP and the Hindutva forces all over the country and the struggle in West Bengal being waged by the Left and democratic forces are inextricably linked. It becomes imperative to defeat the BJP at the national level and to rebuff the venomous anti-Communist reactionary force, the TMC, in West Bengal.”