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CPM inducts Congress defectors in Kerala, in move away from insistence on ideological purity

In the last month alone, the CPI(M) in Kerala has welcomed three senior former Congress leaders, and more are likely to follow suit. 

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New Delhi: The CPI(M) is straying from its traditional trait of adhering to ‘ideological purity’, and has lately begun inducting Congress defectors into its fold in Kerala. 

At least three senior former Congress leaders have joined the ruling party this month alone, and more are expected to follow suit.

They include former secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) P.S. Prasanth; former organising KPCC secretary K.P. Anil Kumar, and former general secretary G Rethikumar. All three have had a long association with the Congress, spanning several decades.

Among these, Prasanth and Kumar were suspended from the party temporarily for “indiscipline” last month, owing to their recurring attacks on the Congress’ state leadership. 

ThePrint had earlier reported how there were emerging fault-lines of dissent within the Kerala Congress, with senior leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala alleging that they weren’t consulted in the appointment of the party’s new district presidents. Many leaders including Prasanth and Kumar too had publicly spoken against the state leadership over the issue.

“There is no democracy in the Congress now…The CPI(M) is the only party with a secular stand and puts up a resistance against the BJP-led communal forces,” Prasanth had said in the press conference while joining the ruling party. 

Kumar, who was with the Congress for 43 years, too cited similar reasons, accusing the party of behaving in an “authoritarian manner.” 

Another senior Congress leader, A.V. Gopinath resigned from the Congress last week and is expected to join the CPM as well, but hasn’t made an official announcement yet.

This stands in stark contrast to the CPM’s traditional brand of ideological purity, where the party ranks would usually consist of those who were part of the Left’s cadre. 

Also read: Cash-mukt Congress soon? Data shows leadership crisis is not party’s only problem since 2014

Consistent in politics, want to fight BJP head-on: CPM’s defence

Vijayaraghavan, CPI(M)’s secretary incharge, tweeted last week that it isn’t just these Congress leaders, but more are expected to join the CPM in the coming days.

“More leaders will leave the Congress & join the Left in the coming days, in recognition of the political stance adopted by the Left,” he wrote. 


Speaking to ThePrint, Vijayaraghavan explained that the CPI(M)’s decision to accept former Congress leaders is based on the fact that they are now “cooperating with the party”.

“While joining the CPI(M), they expressed their views very clearly about their discontent with Congress, and their desire to be active workers of the CPI(M),” Vijayaraghavan said.

Vijayaraghavan denied that this was a new approach by the party.

“We have been consistent in our political approach. Those joining CPI(M) realise that only we are truly committed to maintaining the secular fabric of the state, and we fight the BJP head-on. Unlike other states, these defectors aren’t joining the BJP. They are joining CPI(M),” he said.

The leader further accused the Congress of being “opportunistic and communal”.

“They ally with communal forces like Jamaat-e-Islami. They are hand-in-glove with BJP, and have no internal democracy,” he said. 

‘CPM strategy shows pragmatic, realpolitik approach’

Analysts, however, say that the CPI(M)’s embrace of Congress defectors suggests a shift in their approach — from an ideologically driven one to a more pragmatic one.

“The CPI(M) realises that if they don’t accept these defectors, chances are they will join the BJP. That will only serve to give legitimacy to the BJP in Kerala — something the CPI(M) can’t afford,” J. Prabhash, a Kerala-based political analyst, told ThePrint.

“At a time when BJP is the most dominant party in the country, the CPI(M) will do everything it can to not allow it to make inroads in Kerala too,” he added.

Prabhash said the CPI(M) adopted this shift in strategy in order to prevent these leaders from joining BJP. “This tells us that the CPI(M) is now looking at Kerala in a more pragmatic manner. Ideological theory is fine, but in this day and age, it has to go hand in hand with realpolitik,” he said. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Taliban back, desperate Kerala families hope couples who fled to Afghanistan for ISIS can return


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