New Delhi: The decision by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM to not align with the Congress is a sign of “vigorous inner-party democracy" rather than a rift, the party’s former general secretary Prakash Karat said.

In an article in party mouthpiece People’s Democracy, Karat said the decision to vote against a draft political resolution put forward by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury was being used to draw conclusions intended to depict the CPM leadership in poor light.

“Such a depiction is baseless and wrong as discussions on differing political views and approaches within the framework of inner-party democracy are reduced to personality clashes and so-called personal differences," Karat said.

Karat said CPM has a distinctive style of functioning based on the organizational principles of democratic centralism. He added that different views can be expressed on political issues and after a free and frank discussion, the committee arrives at a decision.

“If necessary, a vote is taken to decide and the majority view becomes the collective decision of the committee," the CPM leader said.

The central committee, the highest decision-making body of CPM, met in Kolkata last week to finalize the draft political resolution of the party which will be discussed at the party congress in Hyderabad in April.

“The CPM has a proud tradition of vigorous inner-party democracy combined with centralised discipline. The 22nd Congress will embody and carry forward this tradition," Karat said.

The central committee meeting saw two draft proposals being presented. One was presented by Yechury and the second by a group led by Karat. The latter was voted through 55-31.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting on Sunday, Yechury said “It is a majority decision and this draft was adopted. All matters will go before the party congress, which is the highest authority to take a call on our political-tactical line."

The party congress is held once in three years to decide the political-tactical line of the party—the one in April will come ahead of the next general election in 2019 and various assembly elections.

Karat added, “Every member of the party, irrespective of what individual opinion, he or she held prior to this, would as per the principles of democratic centralism unite to implement the adopted political line of the party."

The CPM has seen a rapid decline in its electoral fortunes in recent years and is now in power only in Kerala and Tripura.

The controversy comes at a time when the party is going to polls in Tripura where elections are set to be held on 18 February.

Analysts said the question of whether or not to ally with the Congress has traditionally divided opinion in different units of the party.

“There has been a question of alliance with the Congress for a long time. The Kerala unit of the party has always opposed the decision as they are in a direct contest with the party in the state," said K.M. Sajad Ibrahim, associate professor in the political science department of the University of Kerala.

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