Can’t catch them young! That is the biggest challenge facing the country’s largest Leftist party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The party’s own findings have revealed that those below the age of 31 now constitute only 6.5% of its total membership of 10,590,060. And this comes at a time when those below 35 years of age constitute 51.8% of the country’s population.
Desperately seeking a way to regain electoral relevance, the political organization report of the CPI(M), being discussed at its party congress in Vishakapatnam at present, also takes note of the fact that the party’s membership has fallen significantly in West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashthra. Compared to the last party congress held in 2012, the CPI(M)’s membership has come down by 39,000 in Bengal.
Compounding the crisis is the leadership’s inability to attract most of the six crore members of its mass organizations to join agitations on such burning issues as food security and farmers’ rights.
It is an irony that in spite of its outgoing general secretary, Prakash Karat, and his possible successor, Sitaram Yechury, rising through the ranks from the students’ wing, the party is now increasingly failing to draw youths to its ranks.
Interestingly, mobilsing the youth, especially against the ‘communal politics of the BJP’, is a key focus area of the CPI(M).
“The youths should be in the forefront of taking up social issues, which can also inspire more youths to democratic and secular ideals. This should be part of the enhanced campaign against communal forces,” says the draft political resolution to be adopted at the party congress.
The fact that the party’s social media presence is negligible is another major concern for the leaders. The party’s website has just 52,125 Facebook likes, and its official twitter handle has only 7,743 followers.
The political organization report, however, cites some successful social campaigns in Kerala to show that the party can tap Leftist and pro-Left people who are active in the social media.