New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) Giving a call to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in Karnataka, the CPI(M) today decided to support the “strongest candidates” who would be in a position to defeat the saffron party, besides fielding its own nominees in 18 to 19 seats.

After a two-day meet of the party’s central committee meeting here, its general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the CPI(M) has decided to give an open call to defeat the BJP and the “communal forces” in the poll-bound state.

“In these elections, the main objective of the CPI(M) would be to defeat the BJP. Apart from the seats that we are contesting, we have decided to support the strongest candidate who would be in a position to defeat the BJP. Where we are not contesting, our priority would be to defeat the BJP and communal combination,” he said.

Yechury said the CPI(M), which would contest as part of the Left Front in Karnataka, has decided on its candidates and the final list will be announced by the state committee.

The decision to support the strongest anti-BJP candidates, would mean even supporting Congress nominees. The move comes in the backdrop of an intense debate within the CPI(M) on whether to have any electoral understanding or alliance with the Congress.

In reply to a question by mediapersons, CPI(M) politburo member Prakash Karat said, “We would not name any particular party in our campaign for the seats where we would not contest. We would give an open call to defeat the BJP in Karnataka.” According to a party insider, Karat seems to have softened his stand regarding campaigning for other candidates, including those of the Congress, without naming any party.

The CPI(M) central committee, which met for the last time before the party’s congress due to be held next month in Hyderabad, also expressed serious concern over the “rising incidents of communal polarisation” across the country.

The CPI(M) said after the saffron party suffered a setback in the recent Lok Sabha bye-election, “The RSS-BJP has decided that they have no other option but to sharpen communal polarisation, without which they do not think they will be able to even maintain what they have electorally.” “The worst is that the central ministers are in fact leading communal polarisation through speeches full of hate. They can’t safeguard themselves without creating tension and thereby posing a threat to life and security of religious minorities, Dalits and the very constitutional foundation of our republic,” Yechury alleged.

The Left party also expressed concern over the CBSE question paper leak and said the entire institutional mechanism in the country dealing with education was coming under threat.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.