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November 2017
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CPI(M): Differences on move to change tactics
 
K. Gopalakrishnan

A lean and thin CPIM, after the Lok Sabha elections, losing steadily in its strong holds of Bengal and Tripura is inclined to change the tactical line for existential reasons and strengthening the secular forces in the country.

At least a section in the party, headed by party general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, has realised the current political line of opposing the BJP and the Congress, maintaining equidistance is suicidal and the best is to follow the advice of the founders of the communist movement and fight one enemy at a time. The present policy has only enabled ‘ the communal forces ‘ to strengthen election after elections.

United action against Parivar forces is what Yechuri aims at through the planned amendment to the political line accepted in the 2015 Party Congress responding to the changed political situation since the last meet. To quote Yechuri, “The conditions have changed since 2015 and we will meet in 2018 again.

The basic essential element of Marxism is concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Conditions have changed, so our analysis and alignment accordingly will change”. Any serious challenge to the Hindutva forces would require secular forces to consolidate politically and challenge electorally. To challenge and oppose both the NDA and UPA is beyond the strength of the Left and the secular forces outside the UPA.

Yechuri has been pointing out the huge task before the secular forces and the need to forge unity for long, but even within the CPIM he met with opposition. The CPIM leaders, mainly from Kerala, were pointing to the resolution of 2015 Party Congress which directs not to have any understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress.

The oft-repeated relevant quote is: “The political line precludes having any understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress”. Little could be done to meet the stubborn opposition to any change. However there appears to be a mind-set change among the top leaders, including some from Kerala, particularly after the last assembly elections.

The increasing influence of Parivar forces outside the Hindi belt and the reality of no force emerging to check or challenge perhaps led to the changed mind set among some top leaders of the CPIM and CPI repeatedly calling for political understanding with the Congress. There is also a growing realisation that the CPIM may get isolated if it insists on sticking to the 2015 tactical line which has become irrelevant. Also the 2015 resolution not just precludes any pre poll alliance but post poll alliance too.

A change in the party line can only be brought about with the approval of the party Congress which is scheduled to meet in 2018, well before the Lok Sabha elections. Yechuri and those pursuing the line of wider secular alliance have taken the first step of moving a resolution in the Politbureau.

The draft resolution says, “The Politbureau wishes to clarify that the process of discussion for preparing the draft political resolution has just begun. How to carry forward the main task of fighting the BJP, as decided in the last party Congress, will be finalised and the last resolution will be placed before the Central Committee”.

The draft resolution was discussed in the Politbureau, which met last week for two days, and will meet again on October 2 to discuss further. Later it will be presented to the Central Committee, which is the highest policy making body of the party, which is scheduled to meet during the third week of October. The next stage is consideration by the party Congress, where any party member or sympathiser can propose amendments. It becomes final when endorsed by the party Congress, scheduled during April 2018.

The process is not easy as there are sharp differences in the party including at the top level. Yechuri and his predecessor are in two camps. After the Congress unilaterally went ahead with the Indo-US Nucler Agreement, Prakash Karat has been opposed to have any truck with the Congress. There is no change in his stand though the situation in the country has changed and the CPIM is now reduced to a formidable political force only in Kerala.

Karat’s opponents feel that had the CPIM not left the UPA in a huff, the UPA could have been a political force even today. For, the misuse of authority and most of the corrupt deals took place after the Left parted company with the UPA. The Left was a corrective force in the UPA and could check effectively whenever the alliance went wrong.

Bengal critics of Prakash Karat, a Marxist Acharya, find him prejudiced, often against leaders from the state. He had opposed Jyoti Basu becoming Prime Minister, which was described as a Himalayan Blunder by Basu. He had reservations about making Somnath Chatterjee Speaker and stood in the way of Chatterjee becoming President of India. He opposed proposals from the Bengal Unit.

Some critics feel that Karat was unfair to V.S. Achuthanandan and always promoted Pinarayi. These set irrevocable attitudes affected the Kerala unit of the party and weakened the morale of the party in the state.

In other words those opposed to Karat feel that he sticks to his prejudices. The point is Karat may oppose any adjustment with the Congress and consequently will oppose the change in the 2015 party line approved in the party Congress. It is not easy for Yechuri to convince the party about the need to consolidate secular forces in the country, given the inner party feuds and personal prejudices. Of course Karat camp has weakened today as some feel that he is carrying his prejudices far and the need of the hour is to fight the communal forces and fight one enemy at a time.

In Kerala too he does not have the backing which he used to enjoy a year or two ago.
Fortunately every time Modi government makes a wrong move the realisation to consolidate secular forces is felt by all sections of the society. As intolerance spreads and hate campaigns get intense and elimination of independent views continue unchecked, the consolidation of secular forces would be a natural process.

Yet one is not sure whether Yechuri can carry the party together in changing the party line; none is sure. Also many do not think that Karat will push things towards parting of ways. Fortunately both leaders are intelligent and concerned at the developments within the country.


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