Of CPI(M)’s gloomy canopy
The two-day meeting of 80-plus member central committee of India’s largest Leftist political outfit, Communist Party of India (Marxist) last week failed to adopt a proper review on the disastrous performance of the party in the recent Lok Sabha elections. And for the first time the party could not prepare and release the communiqué immediately after the end of CC meeting. And all this brought despair to the committed members of CPI(M) and fellow-travellers.
It is now an open secret that AKG Bhavan faced a semi-waterloo as several senior CC members snapped fingers at the top leadership at the two-day deliberations for unconvincing explanation from the party general secretary Prakash Karat on the CPI(M)’s continuing downslide. Which is why the party’s polit bureau and CC ‘took primary responsibility for the failure to expand the independent strength and the decline in the mass base of the party, which was reflected in the election results,’ Karat claimed that the CC has adopted the review report, but actually it’s a patched-up and compromise document to keep three major factions in good humour – one led by Karat, other one, led by Sitaram Yechury and West Bengal leadership and third one is non-factional and comprises some leading functionaries in CITU.
Karat, Yechury and others are so divided among themselves that for the first time the CC decided to retain academics, ‘Marxist experts, not professionals’ who will, according to Karat, go into the impact of liberalisation and neo-liberalism on the society and the resultant change. It would help us formulate correct slogans and raise issues which will meet the expectations of the people and also help us adopt a more correct tactical line in the future’. Expressing chagrin at the window-dressed communiqué , a CPI(M) activist, associated with the writers’ front, simply recited a few lines from T S Eliot’s Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock: ‘Time for you and time for me, /and time yet for a hundred indecisions, /And for a hundred visions and revisions, /Before the taking of a toast and tea.’
However, the gloomy canopy that spread over the entire party from 16 May 2014 continues to expand, lament party veterans who had no expectations out of the two-day deliberations that witnessed pyrotechnics under a sound-proof arrangement to prevent factional bickerings leaking out to the media. The communiqué for others is an indication of a wishy-washy CC report on political developments, expected to be made public by early July. It may be ‘a heterogeneous patch-up’, coined by a senior functionary. Another CPI(M) veteran, a chartered accountant , terms it a bikini suit that covers the essentials but uncovers the inessentials.
Prior to the CC, the West Bengal state committee meeting held on 2 and 3 June adopted a ‘preliminary review report’ – not a final one – and the CC too adopted a tentative report. The spectacular performance by the All India Trinamool Congress was considerably due to ‘rigging’, Karat endorsed the views of the WB state leadership. Noting along with the triumph of Bharatiya Janata Party, the party mandarins expressed concern over ‘strengthening of the two rightist political forces and weakening of the Left ‘ that imposed serious dangers before the ‘democratic movement and the working people’ The CPI(M) supremo made a hint about impending change in the tactical line following the massive electoral success of BJP, characterised by the eminent Marxist political economist as ‘Hindu comprador right’.
The central party leadership came to the rescue of bosses of the West Bengal state committee by using the concept of jointly held-responsibility. Karat told the media that ‘complete rigging’ took place in 10,000 out of 77,000 polling booths and ‘partial rigging’ in another 7,000 booths. Queerly enough, the Left Front chairman and PB member Biman Bose told a couple of days after the results were out that polling was rigged in 3,200 booths with the observers and machinery of Election Commission of India behaving like onlookers.
But Karat hastened to add, while meeting the press, ‘these were not the only reasons. The Party has not been able to recover the erosion in its support that it had lost during the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 assembly elections in the state.’ He made no bones that there has been ‘major erosion of the party base’ He conceded that the leadership ‘underestimated the impact of the BJP and the media campaign conducted by it. Sections of people who had voted for the Left earlier have voted for the BJP this time’. The party would look into reasons for ‘alienation of sections of the people from the party’.
Sceptics including at least seven WB state committee members ridiculed Bose and PB member Surya Kanta Mishra, leader of Opposition in the state legislature for escaping their incompetence by exaggerating rigging and other electoral manipulations by the ruling AITC. ‘If rigging is the cause for dismal performance for us, how could BJP’s share rose from a little more than four per cent in the state assembly elections in 2011 to 16.8 per cent in 2014’, one of them said after the two-day West Bengal state committee meet. Although Karat claimed that nobody resigned from the PB and CC, it is almost certain that not only Karat but Biman Bose and P Vijayan, secretary, Kerala state committee are under tremendous pressure from the cadres. A sizable number of CC members accused Karat for protecting Vijayan against Achuthanandan and thereby distancing the party from a good section of Left voters who for the first time declined to vote for the Left Democratic Front which otherwise have bagged at least 12 seats. The LDF instead won in eight seats.
But who will move into the shoes of Karat at the next Party Congress scheduled for 2015?
Bengal comrades in the CC and some from Kerala back Yechury but the pendulum swings towards S Ramachandran Pillai, second in hierarchy.