The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is yet to settle many issues that are vital for regaining its electoral relevance, and the party congress in Kozhikode — held in the first week of April — has only sharpened the contradictions within the party.
The CPM, which had 44 MPs in the last Lok Sabha, now has only 16. When the last party congress took place in Coimbatore in 2008, it was in power in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. However, with the party losing West Bengal after 34 years, its electoral plans — including expanding its presence in North India — hinges on reviving its fortunes in the state.
The party has to resolve some policy issues of immediate relevance such as questions of big capital and industries, something that leaders like former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his industry minister, Nirupam Sen, have been advocating. The duo had been arguing in favour of following the Chinese model of economic development.
Though many believe that such policies had resulted in the party getting voted out of power in West Bengal, a section of the leadership doesn’t agree to the theory. Consequently, the party is yet to come up with a concrete policy alternative for West Bengal.
The party is also seems to be on wait-and-watch mode. “The forthcoming civic polls may bring some good news for us, and it should be better than the last assembly elections. We are still very strong in the state, and we are a cadre-based party,” said a leader from the state.
A section of the state party blames the central leadership for the Trinamool Congress and Congress coming together.
The biggest noteworthy development at the congress was probably the CPM distancing itself from the Chinese model of socialism.
Presenting the ideological document, politburo member Sitaram Yechury spoke of the counter-revolution that could occur in China if the country continues with the same economic model. The ideological resolution had two amendments being moved, one pertaining to the dictatorship of proletariat, and the other on North Korea.
While Bhattacharjee was retained in the politburo, another popular leader — 88-year-old VS Achuthanandan — was left out of it. “The first task is building the party at the grass root level. We will form electoral alliances in the polls, but not at the expense of the Left and democratic alternative,” party general secretary Prakash Karat said.