Virtually clearing the decks for its first electoral tie - up with the Congress in West Bengal, the CPI - M on Thursday sought cooperation of all democratic forces to defeat the ruling Trinamool Congress in the coming assembly polls.
After a two - day central committee meeting that followed the party politburo's sitting on Tuesday, the Communist Party of India - Marxist said: "In West Bengal, the main task is to restore democracy and foil the aggressive efforts by the communal forces to polarise the people in the state by ousting the present Trinamool Congress government.
"The CPI - M will seek the cooperation of all democratic forces in the state to strengthen people's unity in West Bengal to defeat the Trinamool Congress, isolate the BJP and their machinations. "
Briefing mediapersons, CPI - M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said 174 party activists have been killed at the hands of "ruling Trinamool goons" over the past four years and nine months.
Accusing the Trinamool and the BJP of being in collusion, Yechury pointed to the slow progress of the Central Bureau of investigation probe into the Saradha chit fund scam.
"In return, the BJP looks for Trinamool support in the Rajya Sabha. "
"Also, the BJP and the Trinamool in a way feeds on one another by creating a communal polarisation, with the BJP looking for the Hindu votes, and Trinamool eyeing the Muslim votes, " he said.
Asked whether the CPI - M considers the Congress a democratic and secular force, he said: "We are welcoming all secular and democratic forces to join us. Let's see who wants to come to us.
"Then our West Bengal state committee will deal with it and come to us for the final approval. "
While Yechury refused to be very specific keeping in mind the concerns of the party's Kerala unit, which would have to take on the ruling Congress as its arch - rival in the assembly polls scheduled to be held around the same time as in West Bengal, another CPI - M central committee member Gautam Deb gave a straightforward reply.
"When we are referring to secular and democratic forces opposed to the Trinamool, then it is natural we are refering to the Congress.
"We have to discuss the contours of the tie - up in the coming days. We will also welcome other parties. Let's see who comes with us, " Deb told a television channel.
With the polls just months away, the state leaderships of both the CPI - M and the Congress have been pitching for a joint fight against the Trinamool.
On February 1, a majority of state Congress leaders conveyed to party vice president Rahul Gandhi their desire to team up with the CPI - M at the hustings.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take the final decision on behalf of the Congress on the possible tie - up.
A number of state Congress leaders have already flown to Delhi to impress upon the high command the need to formalise the pact without delay.