NATIONAL

CPI(M) advances meet to consider A.P. developments

NEW DELHI NOV. 6. With reports on the possibility of early elections to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly doing the rounds, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to advance its central committee meeting to discuss the development, according to Prakash Karat, CPI(M) politburo member.

The committee will meet in Kolkata on November 14-15 to finalise its broad strategy. The last Assembly elections were held in October 1999, along with the Lok Sabha polls.

At its September meeting, the committee deferred a discussion on the strategy for next year's Lok Sabha polls, deciding to wait for the outcome of the coming Assembly elections.

The CPI(M), which had a tie-up with the Telugu Desam Party earlier, snapped it after the regional party joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 1999 elections. The Left parties contested the last polls on their own.

This time round, they would have to weigh the option of having an understanding with the Congress to defeat the TDP-BJP combine in Andhra Pradesh.

In the last four years, the Congress and the Left parties have joined hands at times and the massive protest against the electricity tariff hike brought the Opposition on one platform.

A crucial aspect that needs scrutiny is the CPI(M)'s stand on the demand for a separate Telengana that has got accentuated with the formation of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti. A large section of the Congress is also echoing a similar demand. On Telengana, both the CPI (M) and the TDP share similar views — they oppose the formation of a new State.

Another aspect will be the likely impact of any understanding with the Congress on national politics as also that on Kerala, where the Congress and the Left parties are on opposite sides of the political divide.