The CPM central committee meeting held from January 19 to 21 in Kolkata had grabbed media attention even before it commenced.
This was due to the fact that the meeting was convened in the backdrop of the differences within the senior leadership of the party over the party’s approach towards the Congress, the country’s main opposition party. In a situation where the Sangh Parivar has gained an upper hand in national politics in such a way transforming even the character of the nation by seizing the democratic machinery and the Constitutional institutions, the secular democratic forces for quite a long time, have been putting forth the idea that the secular parties should iron out their differences and join hands to save the nation. They wanted the CPM as the country’s prominent Left party, to respond favourably to this idea. Since General Secretary Sitaram Yechury backed this idea, many expected that the party would react favourably. The draft of the political resolution prepared by the Politburo to present in the forthcoming party congress and approved by the central committee the other day has announced that there would not be any sort of political alliance or front with the Congress. The resolution prepared by Politburo members Prakash Karat and S Ramachandran Pillai was approved through voting. The core of the resolution was to abstain from entering an alliance or agreement with the Congress. However, Yechury’s stance was to defeat the BJP by joining hands with other secular forces including the Congress. When he received the support of the party’s Bengal unit, Kerala faction strongly backed the Karat side. In the voting that took place after prolonged discussions, 55 delegates voted in favour of Karat’s draft resolution against 31 votes favouring Yechury’s faction, which was approved by the central committee. This draft resolution will now be placed before the party for discussions. It is the party congress which is due in April that would take the final decision.
The Politburo initially, and the central committee later, taking an opposing stand against the political resolution put forth by the General Secretary is a rare incident in the history of CPM. No similar incident can be seen in the party’s history. Reports had surfaced regarding Yechury’s desire to resign. In the press conference held after the central committee, he did not deny these reports as well. Yechury reacted to the questions by saying that he was there holding the press conference as the General Secretary of the CPM as the politburo and central committee wanted him to continue in the post. That is, beyond what should be the approach towards the Congress, the central committee and draft resolution have pushed the party into circumstances that would give rise to leadership conflicts within the party. This would lead the party to a bizarre situation where it would invite its own decline by quarrelling over the kind of approach to be adopted towards a political opponent.
The CPM has no two opinions on the fact that the BJP rule is a disaster for the whole nation. There might also not be any differences among them over the fact that the party cannot defeat the BJP alone by themselves. In that case, those with common sense would deem that the divisive politics should be defeated by joining hands with those with whom that is possible. However, the party which has numerous intellectuals, mostly take absurd decisions. It was a similar decision by which they declined the Prime Minister’s post that was offered to them and kept away from the national coalition that was formed on their own initiative in 1996. Jyoti Basu, the party’s senior leader had later termed the decision a ‘Himalayan blunder’. The question which arises is as to whom the party will side with during the Parliament election to be held in 2019. That is, are you with the BJP or the anti-BJP side? Congress is a main party on the anti-BJP side. By declaring to maintain a distance with the Congress, the CPM would do well to analyse their relevance in the crucial election.
Reports say that the circumstances in Kerala are what have prompted to adopt such a resolution. The Kerala faction is apprehensive that the BJP in the state would take advantage of the fact that the CPM entered an alliance with the Congress at the national level, during their campaigns. Even if the decision is considered right, what is the logic behind taking a decision of forming no alliance of any kind ever with the Congress? The resolution of the central committee rejects even the prospects of moving ahead by taking decisions according to the circumstances in the state. Instances of losing out on opportunities by holding on to ideological adamancies could be seen in the history of Left Front in India. The CPM at present is making attempts to safeguard that tradition.