Add to this the severe discomfiture of the Bengali Marxist at the prospect of being seen as colluding with the 'communal' BJP. Several state leaders have already obliquely criticised Karat and the ideologues at AKG Bhavan. As a senior CPI(M) MP lamented, "Karat and the others decide the party line in Delhi but they know nothing of realpolitik. They have never even contested a municipal poll. If early elections are forced on us, our tally will go down sharply. Then where will we have the numbers to influence national politics? The top leadership should be more pragmatic."
CPI(M) central committee member Hanan Mollah was among the many who told Outlook that voting with the BJP would alienate Muslim voters. State minority affairs minister Abdus Sattar, for one, is feeling the heat. "The Congress and Trinamool have launched a campaign in rural Bengal highlighting this and it'll be tough convincing our supporters that we didn't join hands with communal forces," he says.