CPI (M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury’s not-so-veiled attack on general secretary Prakash Karat”s political-tactical line at the recent Central Committee (CC) meeting may have been seen and interpreted in the context of the expected change of guard at the party Congress next year, but Yechury’s critique raises some fundamental issues that the Left has shied away from, at its own peril.
Yechury and a majority of CC members who supported his so-called ‘alternative draft’ had a lot of questions that the Left party needs to introspect: Why is the Left missing from public discourse? Why does it no longer catch the fancy of students and the youth? What’s the impact of economic reforms on different strata of society and has the Left re-calibrated its tactics in its wake? Why is the middle class not impressed with the Left’s penchant for protesting issues like hikes in petrol prices or inflation?
In the backdrop of successive poll drubbings and the BJP’s recent forays into the Left bastions of West Bengal and Kerala, sources said Yechury’s line got overwhelming support from CC members — 38 out of 54 speakers supported it as against 8 who defended the Karat line. This forced the CC not to adopt the Karat-driven draft report seeking a review of the political-tactical line as adopted by the Jalandhar Congress in 1978 favouring an alliance of secular, democratic forces against the Congress and communal forces. Yechury’s argument was that the fault lay in the implementation and not in the line itself.
“Politics of empty rhetoric has resulted in adventurism since 2008,” said a senior Left leader, in an apparent reference to the party’s decision to withdraw support from UPA-I over the Indo-US nuclear deal and subsequent failed attempts for political re-alignments.
As it is, there are wide-spread desertions from the CPM camp in its strongholds. In West Bengal, a host of party leaders and cadre have switched loyalty to the Trinamool Congress or the BJP. “Trinamool is the best option to fight against Union government policies,” said Dipankar Ghosh, former regional chairman of CITU-affiliated Airport’s Authority Employees Union, who joined the Trinamool Congress. With Ghosh, 264 workers swearing allegiance to the union joined Bengal’s ruling party. Similarly, Anatara Bhattacharya, a CPI(M) leader from West Midnapore who joined the BJP, said, “TMC leaders were unleashing atrocities and terror on us. The CPI(M) is in no position in to resist these attacks. But the BJP is slowly strengthening its organisation in the district.”
The situation for Left parties is no different in Kerala
Whether this trend will continue or stop will also depend on how the CPI(M) responds to issues raised by Yechury and others at the last CC meeting.