Reviving the CPI(M)’s fortunes in India
Communism arises from the contradictions of Capitalism. A communist party is thus by its very nature against the accumulation of Capital, especially in the hands of a few who can be called the bourgeoisie – big or small. The ultimate emancipation of the working class is found in its independence from material dependence. Along those lines if one were to examine the goings on of the 21st CPI(M) party Congress, one finds a strange dichotomy.
On the one hand, after almost three decades of conducting politics on the basis of an overt opposition to neo-liberal/neo-classical economic policies in the country, the party actually sees itself not growing beyond the traditional bastions of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. It is, however, in a state of political wilderness except for its state government in Tripura. Partly, this is due to its insistent search for what it called Left, democratic and secular alternative. This not only compromised its ideological standpoint, but also its political capital .
If one were to assume that the CPI(M) will look to bring other left parties and democratic formations under one communist umbrella, besides fulfilling the mandate of expanding the party base in uncharted areas, Yechury seems like a problematic choice. In Parliament, where he is now in the sixth year of his second term, he is known to strike political deals the party needs. In that scenario, he is known to be soft on the Congress and more tolerant of the shindigs of someone like Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Are these attributes enough to spread the party’s base in states, where scientific socialism needs to be disseminated, which would subsequently lead to the “free association of free individuals”? Of course, his followers within the party, most of them from West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, and some from Kerala, would say that there is another mandate emerging from the Vizag Congress, i.e. the expansion of mass organisations.
What are the parameters on which his performance will be judged? One can say that he has begun his inning with an advantage. Globally, neo-liberalism/neo-classicism is in withdrawal; financial globalisation seems to have seen its halcyon days and the emphasis is on regional trading blocs now. The Trans Pacific Partnership, shepherded by the USA, is just one such example of a regional trading bloc.
Within this country, neo-liberalism has ironically received a fillip, coupled with, of course, Hindu fundamentalism after the emergence of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. The CPI(M) has correctly diagnosed that the regional elite of the country is no longer asserting itself the way it did during the Other Backward Caste reservation movement of the late 1980s. The regional elite are now fully subservient to the national elite that are selling neo-liberal policies even after its ‘sale by’ date.
Yechury thus will need to tap into his well of dynamism to first instill within the party a momentum for internal change. The political-tactical line of the party states that it needs to closely examine the events that led to the ouster of the Left Front in West Bengal – and then create an agenda for leading change within India. The CPI(M) party Congress had received major media attention in news publications, possibly because there is a felt-need for ‘change’
As the largest communist party of the country, the CPI (M) has a responsibility to push for transformative politics. Some people thought that political outgrowths like Aam Aadmi Party with non-ideological ‘solution’-based approach will replace the need for a communist party. However, its present predicament shows that the party has a long road ahead.
The default position thus, for Yechury is mixed. The contradiction that exists between his choice as the affable face; and the hard realities that CPI (M) has to deal with both in ideological terms and, praxis, can throw up fresh challenges for the party within. Time, however, flows almost autonomously, unless strategic and tactical interventions occur.