CPM Central Committee’s approach

Nitya Chakraborty

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership is in the habit of committing major political blunders in the month of July. The earlier historic blunders took place at the central committee meetings in July 1996 by rejecting the proposal to  make Jyoti Basu the Prime Minister and in 2008, the CC decided to withdraw from the UPA Government of Dr. Manmohan Singh on the issue of the India-US nuclear deal.
True to its tradition, at the latest central committee meeting of the Party on July 23 to 26, the CC rejected the proposal of the West Bengal state committee to propose the Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury for the third term in Rajya Sabha. The argument which the Kerala Chief Minister P. Vijayan gave from the dominant leadership is that the Party constitution does not allow any Rajya Sabha member more than two term and the CPM general secretary should not seek election on the basis of support of the Congress Party.
For argument’s sake, there is nothing wrong in this position. But the question is that this is an extraordinary political situation when all opposition parties are making efforts on the floor of Parliament to put a united front against the Narendra Modi government. It is an uneven fight and it needs expertise and solid experience to navigate the efforts towards building up a strong campaign in the Parliament on the basis of urgent issues facing the people. Yechury is the only CPM leader who has that capacity in the Rajya Sabha and despite the dwindling strength of the CPM, he acquired the position of a seniormost leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha as also in Parliament as a whole.
At a time when the saffron forces have spread their tentacles at every level of the Government at the centre and both the elected President and the vice-president elect, are active RSS persons, it is all the more for the secular opposition to have the services of a leader like Sitaram Yechury in Parliament who can lead from the front and who can be trusted for imparting sharp edge to the debates in exposing the government’s gross failures. With Yechury out of Rajya Sabha next month, the Left as a group will be weaker with veteran D. Raja of the CPI remaining as the sole pro-active Left member of the Rajya Sabha brigade of the Left. Yechury’s departure from Rajya Sabha is a political loss of the CPM also in terms of its reach and influence. There is no CPM member in Rajya Sabha left now who can fill Yechury’s gap.
The CPM leadership has not been able to assert itself aggressively in the recent months due to the wide divergence of views between the general secretary of the Party Sitaram and the dominant section led by the erstwhile general secretary. At the CC meeting on July 25, the West Bengal Committee’s proposal was defeated by 50-30 out of the total of 91 members. This also signals the strength of the respective ideological groups on the issue of united action with the Congress. Sitaram has been the general secretary of the Party for the last two years since the last Party Congress in 2015 but he has never been given free hand in working for understanding with secular forces including the Congress. That is why his steps have been half baked and there is a sort of paralysis in the functioning of the CPI(M) at this critical period. The next Party Congress is at Hyderabad in April 2018 and till then this dichotomy will continue thereby devaluing the Left role in the fight against the BJP.
At the last meeting of the opposition parties on July 11, the issue of joint campaign was discussed. Only through such massive campaigns both inside Parliament and outside in different states, the ground can be prepared to give a political challenge to the BJP in the next round of elections. The CPI(M) CC in its communiqué has very casually  mentioned at the end that the Party must take initiative at all levels to mobilize all secular and democratic forces and conduct anti-communal programmes all over the country during the month of September. This part should have been elaborated further since only through such widespread campaigns along with other anti-BJP parties, the right environment can be created for combating the BJP challenge.
In a wideranging interview in The Wire on July 27, eminent Marxist economist Dr. Prabhat Patnaik mentions that the Left has to take the initiative in bringing everybody into an alliance in which there is some agreed agenda. Right now, there can be a freeze on the neo liberal reforms which have already taken place. A common minimum agenda as was drawn up before the 1996 Deve Gowda government and 2004 Manmohan Singh government can be worked out in cooperation with the Congress and other anti BJP forces and that can be the pivot for a massive campaign. The CPI national executive has specifically mentioned of the need for the united action of the anti-BJP secular forces since the Left alone cannot meet this saffron threat. The CPM is yet to take such an unequivocal position.
Following the latest developments in Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be emboldened in going for early Lok Sabha poll in 2018. Modi-Shah duo will ensure that the opposition unity efforts do not succeed and the saffron party will encourage the disgruntled sections of the Congress to leave the Party for greener pastures. The Sangh Parivar’s target is full saffronisation of all the institutions within next five years. Only a programme based opposition with the participation of the Congress, Left and other secular forces, will be in a position to fight that. There is no other alternative. (IPA)

Wednesday, 2 August, 2017