The CPI(M) politburo's refusal to accept the resignation of Prasenjit Bose from both the post of convener, research unit of the party's central committee, and primary membership was expected from the Stalinist-Beriaite mandarins of the CPI(M)'s national headquarters at AK Gopalan Bhavan. They are
too unnerved to face the truth, revealed in the 2,550-plus word quit letter, uploaded in an AKG Bhavan-blessed website. So the judgement, stereotypically scripted, reads, Bose sought to "malign the political line of the Party". And so he is "expelled (him) from the membership of the CPI(M) under Article VIII (2) of the Party Constitution."
Incredible as it may appear, the CPI(M)'s constitution has a provision to expel members after they have put in their papers. "In the case where a party member wishing to resign from the party is liable to be charged with serious violation of party discipline which may warrant his or her expulsion and where such a charge is substantial, the resignation may be given effect to as expulsion from the party".
So once you are enrolled as a member of the CPI(M), you can't quit the party save on health or filial grounds. If you write to the authority that you consider the party deviates from the basics of Marxism, you will be accused of maligning the party and be chucked out in the same way as Bose has been.
Did Bose really malign the party? He simply drew the attention of the leadership to some basic conclusions of the political resolution (PR) at the party's 20th Congress (April 4-9, 2012, Kozhikode) in paragraphs, 2.137 and 2.138. The draft PR was debated at every layer of the hierarchy, down to the branch committee, for two months and finally went through with additions, deletions and alterations at Kozhikode. Bose reminded the biggies of the commitment to "politically fight the Congress and the BJP", both representing "the big bourgeois landlord order that perpetuates class exploitation and is responsible for the social oppression of various sections of the people. They pursue neo-liberal policies and advocate a pro-US foreign policy". In contrast, the PR says, Bose quoted, "Only a Left and democratic platform can be the alternative to bourgeois-landlord rule. This alternative needs to be built up through a process of movements and struggles and the emergence of a political alliance of the Left and democratic forces", rallying non-Congress, non-BJP forces which can play a role in defence of democracy, national sovereignty, secularism, federalism and in defence of the people's livelihood and rights."
Therefore, he argues, the PR's "decision to extend support to the Congress' nominee for the 2012 Presidential elections is a clear violation of the agreed line of politically fighting both the Congress and the BJP." It is "disruption of Left unity" - which is true as the CPI and RSP differ. Bose rightly called this "a brazen violation of the political line within less than three months of the Party Congress".
The PR is the general line until the next congress. Even the central committee can't deviate from it. So the boot is on the other foot, not Bose's.
The word 'malign' has a different etymological root for a Stalinist party. To disclose the truth is to malign the party (read leadership coterie). Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress (1956) of the now-extinct Communist Party of the Soviet Union in his historic 'secret' speech revealed that after the 17th CPSU Congress (1934), Josef Stalin exterminated 98 of 139 CC members on false charges. He didn't distort the truth but that showed inner-party democracy was stifled. For Mao Zedong and his followers such as the CPI(M) it was too hard to digest and so the CPSU leadership was accused of maligning the international communist movement. The tradition of annihilation of truth has been shamelessly upheld by the Karat-led politburo. The erstwhile blue-eyed theologian was given a bad name and then hanged.
Sankar Ray is a Kolkata-based writer.
The views expressed by the author are personal.