Millennium Post

Collapse of political coherence

The resolution to support the Congress party nominee, Pranab Mukherjee, for the presidential polls was put to vote in the Communist Party of India [Marxist]’s politbureau [PB] meeting on 21 June. Those ranged against the resolution were defeated by one vote. But the fissures it created in the party were evident in the resignation of Prasenjit Bose, a young face of the party and its head of the research cell, an early casualty of grossly mistaken political step.

The Bengal group in the PB voted in favour of supporting the Congress nominee. The rationale for them voting in favour of Mukherjee could be two:

(a) He is a fellow Bengali and the sentiment of the people back home in West Bengal needed to be acknowledged as he would be the first Bengali president of the country. A question could be asked since when have chauvinistic strands of popular political thought infected a communist party that claims to be a national political formation.  

(b) The second reason is even more ludicrous, ever since it has been articulated. When the CPI (M)-led Left front began losing a series of elections – from municipal, panchayat, parliamentary and finally assembly polls, the Bengal group of the CPI (M) had been touting a rather pernicious logic. According to its leading lights like the former chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and the state secretary, Biman Bose and others down the line, the withdrawal of support by the Left front to the first United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government on the issue of New Delhi embracing the USA through a civilian nuclear deal had caused the unification of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress in the state. Thus the CPI (M) and Left parties lost the polls for the aggregation of the support bases of the two ‘bourgeoisie’ parties.

In the extant case of Mukherjee’s election, it has been argued that the Bengal group found a way to drive a wedge between the two parties, with Mamata Banerjee being so vociferously against the fellow Bengali, and this would raise the electoral fortunes of the CPI (M) and its partners. This illogic has proved those in West Bengal and outside correct, who say that the CPI (M) has singularly failed to take Left, revolutionary positions on issue after issue in the past, in turn causing great harm to Leftist politics. The inherent parliamentarism of the CPI (M) that had alienated the party from the working class of the state of West Bengal is still not showing any waning of its influence on the leadership of the state party. Having said that, however, significantly Prakash Karat, the general secretary, voted with those who did not want the party to support the Congress presidential candidate. But unfortunately this did not weigh in favour of the dissenting group. So is the centre not holding in the party?

Prasenjit Bose, in his much publicised resignation letter from the primary membership of the party has pointed out the support to Mukherjee is a deviation from the party line that was adopted only a few months ago. At the 20th party Congress in Kozhikode, Kerala, it was decided that the CPI (M) would act to oppose the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because they represented bourgeois-landlord combine of the country. The fact that the Bengal group of the PB pushed through their agenda of supporting the presidential nominee of the Congress party showed a marked departure from the above mentioned part of the political resolution of the party. This markedly ‘reactionary’ politics of the group is pushing Karat to further align with the Kerala party, despite the fact all was not well even with them.

The seemingly unending factional battles of the Kerala unit have harmed the party no end as the octogenarian former chief minister of the state, Achuthanandan, seems to gain political relevance only by attacking the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan, the state secretary. While this raises the vulnerability of both to external forces taking advantage of the chaos, it brings down state repression on the cadres. Even here Karat is singularly failing to choose the correct side and take decisive action. This developing situation within the party is creating apprehensions on how it would contest the Lok Sabha poll if slated any time between mid-next year to 2014. The party is also losing its political coherence in light of what Prabhat Pattanaik rightly called ‘bourgeois liberalism and feudal-Stalinism.’

It is a pity that the country’s primary institutional communist party is suffering such an internal crisis at a time when the world over people are struggling to throw off the failed neo-liberal yoke and search for answers in Marx. Political developments in countries of the European continent and even the USA are showing promises of an upsurge in Leftist politics with a greater number of people joining in for the first time since 1980s, when the Soviet Union began to unravel.

Pinaki Bhattacharya is a senior journalist.
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