Over the years, CPI(M) has only witnessed a steady decline and is seen to be losing direction and lacking resonance among the youth.
New Delhi: The rift in the CPI(M) central committee over the draft political resolution about a possible alliance with the Congress has only exposed the cracks within the Left party.
General Secretary Sitaram Yechury’s line was defeated by a vote of 31 versus 55, with the central committee adopting the draft resolution, backed by his predecessor Prakash Karat, which ruled out any electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress.
The development, said to be unprecedented in the party, is significant coming ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where all opposition parties were looking to put up a united front to defeat the BJP.
The draft resolution will now be tabled in the Party Congress, due in April, which will take the final decision. The central committee is the highest decision making body of the CPI(M).
Karat, however, tried to play down the controversy, saying this was “not a Karat versus Yechury issue”.
“This is not about individuals, unlike in other parties. The general secretary of the CPI(M) is not like the president of the Congress or BJP,” Karat told ThePrint.
“The general secretary is in a sense the spokesperson of the CC and politburo. You shouldn’t look at it as the general secretary’s view that wasn’t adopted, look at it as a minority view,” he added.
Karat further said, “As a communist party, we don’t believe we have to revive ourselves only through electoral successes.”
Over the years, the party has only seen a steady decline and is now reduced to a peripheral voice in national politics, seen to be losing direction and lacking resonance among the youth.
In West Bengal, one of its former strongholds, the CPI(M)-led Left front had faced its worst defeat in the 2016 polls, with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress winning 211 of the 294 seats. The Left-Congress alliance, which happened despite opposition from the Karat faction in the CPI(M), got just 76 seats and Congress even did better than the CPI(M).
Even in Kerala, the CPI(M) government led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is fraught with troubles and controversies. Its only remaining stronghold Tripura goes to polls next month, but the ride seems anything but smooth, with the BJP moving in aggressively and making inroads.
In this context, the open split in the party and its decision to adopt the more ideological than pragmatic position of not aligning itself with the Congress may just be a big setback for an already tottering CPI(M), sources said.
The BJP government led by Modi, even if now facing anti-incumbency, still remains a force to reckon with and by fighting separately and cutting into each other’s ‘secular’ vote banks, the Congress, Left and other opposition parties can hardly hope to bring it down.
Karat, however, believes both Congress and BJP are ruling-class parties and need to be fought electorally, even though he does believe BJP is the main enemy.
“You can have a main enemy but you can choose your friends with whom you want to defeat that enemy. Congress is not our target of attack,” he said.
“We will still cooperate with the Congress on issues in Parliament and outside, just not electorally,” Karat added.
The Party Congress, due in mid-April, will also elect a general secretary and with Yechury’s position considerably weakened, it remains to be seen whether he will get another term.
“All the talk that he is in minority and therefore, cannot be general secretary, isn’t true,” Karat said, adding that “conventionally, the Party Congress has endorsed the draft resolution adopted by the central committee”.
Karat, however, has denied that Yechury offered to resign after the line backed by him was rejected.
Whether or not Yechury gets another term as party secretary, the fact remains that whoever leads the party is not what would determine its revival, but the flexibility to adapt to the changed political circumstances and to shed some of its ideological baggage will, sources said.
It may take pride in its inner party democracy but perceptions of factionalism at a time when the party is down to just 9 seats in the Lok Sabha from the 44 it won in 2004 can hardly help portray the image of a cohesive unit, ready to take on the electoral challenge.
While it should be fighting the enemy outside, the party seems busy sorting out internal differences. The CPI(M) may think it is working towards defeating its political rivals, but the truth is, at this rate, it may only be working towards defeating itself.