• Looking Beyond the Yechury-Karat Binary

    On the two Draft Political Resolutions discussed at CPI(M)'s Central Committee meeting in January 2018

    Y Venugopal Reddy

    April 9, 2018

    Image Courtesy: Indian Express

    A lot of discussions, informed or uninformed, are happening on different platforms in the wake of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Central Committee (CC)’s deliberations, and its outcome, in its meeting in Kolkata. Most of them are aimed at vitiating the discussion rather than constructively contributing to the debate to make it better informed. Some of these are columnists, who are fuming at the Party, and hurling abuses at a specific section of the Party leadership without knowing the facts of the deliberations in question. By now it is a known fact that the Party’s Central Committee met in Kolkata in the third week of January and adopted a Draft Political Resolution, chosen by majority vote.

    A lot is under circulation about the contents of the resolution moved by the Party General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury. This is not the place to discuss the contents in full but one point should be noted here. The Draft which was defeated at the CC, one is given to understand, had argued that the continuation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Center would prove to be a major hindrance in the efforts to realise anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, and anti-landlord tasks set out by the Party’s 21st Congress, held in 2015. It urged the forthcoming Party Congress to look for the ways and means of ensuring the completion of the tasks set out by 21st Congress. It also argued, further, that while adhering to the organisational and political tasks set out by 21st Congress, and defeating the BJP-RSS combine, the party needs to be careful not to enter into any kind of electoral front or alliance with bourgeoisie-landlord parties. The General Secretary’s Draft did not recommend a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, as alleged by certain sections of the media. Throughout the country, there has been no state where the CPI(M) has an explicit understanding with the Congress, except perhaps in Andhra Pradesh during the 2004 General Elections. But even then the CPI(M)’s Andhra Pradesh State Committee had adopted a method whereby Congress did not contest for any of the seats for which CPI(M) was contesting. This had yielded better results for the Party in the 2004 General Elections. One more point must also to be noted here which, in retrospect, seems significant. It was only in 2004, after a grand understanding had been arrived at between different secular democratic forces, that the Party got its highest representation in the Lok Saba from Kerala.

    Another misleading report by a particular columnist was about the Common Minimum Program (CMP). The question of CMP arose only after the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi personally visited Harikishan Surjeet, the then Party General Secretary, amidst much media scrutiny. Arguing that the Party put together the CMP well before elections is nothing but putting the cart before the horse. Those who claim that the CPI(M) in West Bengal is no longer as relevant as it was in its heyday are forgetting one important thing. Going by the Purulia Arms Drop case, the propping up of underground Naxal forces, and the political resistance under the leadership of Trinmool Congress, it is hardly a secret that the ruling classes are dominated by the interests and allegiance towards international finance capital. Yes, certain orgnaisational aspects did contribute in obfuscating or overlooking the class enemies’ constant use of organised political violence under the guise of political protest. This was the understanding arrived at by the Party Central Committee in its meeting in June 2011.

    For the benefit of the readers, I am reproducing the relevant portion from the Review Report of the Assembly Elections, 2011, here.

    The Assembly elections were held in a situation marked by the concerted efforts of the ruling classes and imperialism to weaken the CPI(M) and the Left. These efforts began due to the role played by the Left during the UPA-I government in opposing the neo-liberal policies and the strategic alliance with the United States. They got intensified after the withdrawal of support to the government in July 2008. The ruling classes and imperialist agencies worked to assemble a range of forces to attack the Left in West Bengal, the strongest base of the Left in the country.

    Similarly, the Central Committee review of 2016 Assembly elections states,

    The elections were held in a very difficult condition faced by our Party.  During the course of the last five years, the terror unleashed by the Trinamool Congress had, even before the campaign began, consumed the lives of 176 of our comrades, apart from internally displacing over 60,000 families of Party members and sympathisers, the ransacking and looting of the Party and mass organisation offices, the specific targeting of women comrades, etc.

    Those who claim that the 2011 assembly outcome  was a result of something drastic that had happened in the West Bengal Party are either politically naïve, or have missed the wider canvass against which these developments took place, or they intentionally don’t want to see them.

    If we take these developments into account, it becomes evident that the attempts to establish a connection between the minority resolution and the Party position in West Bengal amount to nothing but misinformation. It is pertinent to bring forth the assessment of the Party in the wake of Assembly Elections in 2016, which concluded,

    The BJP’s aggressiveness post [the] elections is taking different forms in different states. Apart from the standard RSS scheme of sharpening communal polarisation to consolidate the Hindutva communal vote bank, the BJP is undertaking specific exercises in social engineering in various states. In the southern states, particularly, various caste combinations are being created and caste-based coalitions are sought to be built by the BJP in addition to its hardcore communal agenda. In a situation where, in different states, the Congress party is in a state of disarray for various reasons, the BJP is taking full advantage by undertaking both these tasks. The Party must be conscious of these efforts by the communal forces and strengthen our intervention among the people against these. (emphasis mine)

    The relevance of this assessment becomes clear when we see the recent developments in Kerala, which has become the latest target of class enemies, just as had happened in West Bengal in 2011. The developments taking place in Kerala, at the behest of the BJP which is in power at the Center, not only reaffirm the Party’s understanding but also highlight the impending danger. In Kerala, through concerted efforts, the BJP has managed to mobilise a large number of its followers from other states, bringing them together in a show of strength, which helped boost the morale of their local cadre; this could have serious consequences. The RSS chief made it a point to stoke controversies in their efforts to discredit the CPI(M) and its leadership in Kerala, which is the ruling party in the state. It is in this context that the Party, rightly, decided to defend the Kerala government. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala represents various movements against the Congress’ monopoly in the state’s socio-economic life, which is, of late, also facing unending attacks from BJP and RSS. That is why, a considerable number of Central Committee members felt the urgency to ward off the impending threat, both to Kerala’s Left Democratic Front and also to the larger secular democratic fabric of the nation. They strongly believed that it can be warded off only by defeating the BJP in the forthcoming General Elections in May 2019. To ensure that, the adopted Draft Political Resolution (yet to be released formally) argued for a tie up with anti-BJP regional forces in all the states, even if they are in a political and electoral tie-up with the Congress.  This is the alleged difference between the two Drafts.

    A review of the political-tactical line was meant to help the Party arrive at a better political-tactical line, which would aid in pursuing the goals set out by the Party Program and the successive Party Congress. In essence, the resolution adopted at the 21st Congress clearly affirms the fact that, “The successive tactical lines in this period also gave the guidance to fight separatism, regional chauvinism, and imperialist penetration.”Despite this, if the Party is unable expand its strengths, it might be time for them to start looking inward, at subjective factors, rather than trying to change the objective factors, which are clearly beyond their control. The deliberations of the CC at the Kolkata meeting clearly show that things are actually the other way round. The operational part of the Draft Political Resolution adopted in Kolkata seems to include a section indicating that the Party won’t mind an electoral alliance with the dominant regional parties even if they are Congress allies. The majority decision goes against the spirit of the political and organisational line adopted at the 21st Congress of the Party. Any tactical line cannot be formulated based on assumptions. The Draft Resolution, if what is being reported by the media is correct, clearly tries to formulate its position based on some futuristic assumptions rather than the current on-ground situation. The 21st Congress’s Resolution on its political-tactical line clearly concludes,

    Under the impact of globalisation and in the [phase of] neo-liberal policies, sections of the regional bourgeoisie are joining the ranks of the big bourgeoisie. Further, the contradiction between the non-big bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie has become muted. As a result, we have seen how the neo-liberal policies have been embraced by the regional bourgeois parties. In the recent years, we have seen that these parties are not willing to come to any joint platform against the economic policies.

    When it is a common understanding that the dominant regional parties, most of whom are in power, are in cahoots with the international finance capital class, who are the enemies of class struggle and control most of the capital in the country, then how can the Party think of building an alliance with them? The Draft Resolution, if it does not steer clear from this stance, is going to be nothing but semantic jargon, which would be quite regrettable considering how it was originally meant to serve as a guiding light for the Party in deciding their future course of action. 


    Y Venugopal Reddy is a High Court advocate

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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