History would turn a full circle for the CPI(M) as it meets for its Plenum in Kolkata, 36 years after it held its first such mega brainstorming meeting in Kolkata’s neighbourhood of Salkia in 1979. At the Salkia meeting, the party grappled to find solutions to expand itself to make it a “mass-based revolutionary” party.
After almost four decades the CPI(M) again finds itself struggling to revive its organisation and increase followings, particularly among the youth.
The urgency too, is palpable: In the next year the party faces crucial assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal. In the last six years, the largest communist party as well as the Left bloc has seen a steady erosion of its electoral strength. From its highest-ever 61 seats in 2004 Lok Sabha, the Left is reduced to its lowest tally of 11 in the current Lok Sabha. After its 34-year rule, it lost Bengal to Trinamool Congress.
In the upcoming session, the CPI(M) will try to put some checks and balance in inclusion of new members and try to redirect the organization as a more combative political force. “After ruling Bengal for 34 years and periodically coming to power in Kerala, a large part of our organization had turned into a mere vote-machinery. We were fast losing our basic character as a round-the-year revolutionary party,” said a senior leader.
The Plenum, slated from December 27 to 30, had also been hosted in Kolkata with an eye on the upcoming elections where the CPI(M) faces a four-corner fight against the ruling Trinamool, Congress and a rising BJP. “Certainly, the organization of the Plenum will help us rejuvenate our organization in the state,” said a leader. More street-protests, more aggressive role as an opposition, regular classes for members while renewed emphasis in its mass-contact programme, are some of the likely focus areas of the party.