Skip to main content

CPI-M is stuck in past models of socialism, eulogizes Chinese authoritarianism, North Korea dictatorship

By Prasenjit Bose*
Far from transparently and decisively resolving the issues which plague the party and the Left movement in India, the 21st Congress of the CPI(M) has yielded a schizophrenic outcome. The purported ‘political line’ adopted by the Party Congress and the ‘unanimous’ choice of the new general secretary are quite contradictory, which will only perpetuate the ideological-political incoherence that has gripped the CPI(M) and may further contribute to its organizational disarray.
When the central committee of the CPI(M) met in October 2014 to discuss a medium term ‘review of the political tactical line’ (PTL) in the light of the electoral reverses suffered by the Party, a politbureau (PB) member had moved a dissent note on the document presented by the PB. That note had argued against the very need to review the PTL and had instead held faulty implementation of the political line driven by ‘subjectivism’ of the leadership mainly responsible for the setbacks suffered by the CPI(M), alongside persistent organizational deficiencies.
The elevation of the dissident voice within the outgoing politbureau as the new general secretary of the party raises the question whether the ‘review of the political tactical line’ and ‘political resolution’ adopted in the Congress have the support of the majority within the party? Or will the ‘political line’ adopted in the Party Congress give way over time to political opportunism in the name of ‘flexible tactics’, with the CPI(M) joining hands with the discredited, anti-people Congress in the name of fighting the communal, big corporate-backed, reactionary Modi regime?
Shorn of the baggage of obtuse polemics, the contending positions within the CPI(M) were as follows. One section felt that an important reason behind the stagnation and decline of the party was because of the short-termist alliances and compromises it made with mainstream non-Left parties at the cost of its own independent strength. The key objective of building a Left and democratic alternative at the national level has got jettisoned in the pursuit of the elusive ‘third front’ or having understanding with the Congress at different junctures.
The policies pursued by the Left Front government in West Bengal have also come under criticism, especially the Nandigram fiasco, which self-admittedly had ‘compromised’ the image of the party. On the basis of such diagnosis, the line proposed in the political resolution was of fighting against the BJP regime, opposing the Congress, fighting against state governments run by regional parties, building the independent strength of the party and rallying the Left and democratic forces on the basis of Left unity.
The West Bengal unit of the CPI(M), on the other hand, does not subscribe to this understanding. A review report placed in the West Bengal state conference on the three decades of Left rule defended the industrialisation and land acquisition policies of the government and termed Nandigram as a mere ‘exception’. Rather than honestly admitting their myriad failings on political, developmental and administrative fronts, the Bengal leadership has always attributed its decline in the state to the Left’s withdrawal of support from the UPA-I government in 2008 on the nuclear deal issue, which had supposedly facilitated a TMC-Congress alliance.
It is this understanding which has also been articulated by the dissent note earlier submitted by the new general secretary, when he blamed the ‘subjectivism’ of his predecessor in taking such decisions. As the way ahead, the Bengal leadership of the party is also in favour of a renewed relationship with the Congress both in the state and the centre, which could be seen in the support extended to Pranab Mukherjee in the 2012 Presidential elections. They also want to keep the door open for alliances with regional parties, like in the past.
At the heart of the party congress deliberations was this debate between the independent, Left unity line versus the pro-Congress, or rather the all-in-unity (except TMC) against BJP line. The outcome is a hotchpotch where the political resolution is advocating Left unity against BJP, Congress and other mainstream parties while the new general secretary, backed by the Bengal unit, favours unity with the Congress and other secular parties. This is a recipe for more confusion and rifts in the days to come.
It is difficult for well wishers of the Left to feel enthusiastic when the new general secretary of the CPI(M) says that the twenty first congress was a “congress for the future”; because most people on the Left, while being deeply distressed and angered by the doings of the Modi regime, would not see a very bright future of the country under another Congress-led government either, especially one headed by the son of the Congress President.
Notably, besides hinting at coming closer to the Congress and other opposition parties within parliament, the new general secretary has not been able to articulate any fresh, unorthodox ideas to revive the party and unite the Left. It is difficult to conceive that such revival can happen simply through parliamentary manoeuvres.
Given the extent of the crisis it is facing in India today, the Left needs strong doses of ideological renewal, political clarity and organizational overhaul alongside participation in vibrant mass movements. Unfortunately, that is not the direction that the CPI(M) seems to be taking. The ideological resolution adopted in the last party congress still stuck to the failed models of socialism of the past century, continuing to eulogise the authoritarian, apolitical developmentalism of the Chinese regime and hailing the dynastic military dictatorship of North Korea as socialist.
How can the youth get attracted anymore to such shibboleths passing for ideology? Politically, the party continues to remain caught between half hearted attempts at Left unity and the pro-Congress line of the Bengal leadership, which acts as a smokescreen to conceal their own failings.
This ideological stasis and political rudderlessness has robbed the party organisation of motivation and fighting capacity, especially in Bengal where it is faced with a stiff political challenge, including aggressive physical attacks from the ruling TMC. In the backdrop of the continued organisational erosion at the grassroots, the clich├ęd rhetoric of the Left leadership against electoral malpractices sounds more like bluster.
The CPI(M) and the Left are in dire straits and short-cuts are simply not going to work. The people, especially in West Bengal, are getting impatient at the failure of the CPI(M) and the Left to play the role of an effective opposition and build movements on people’s issues. Neither are they going to wait forever, nor will they accept old wine served in a new bottle.
---
*Expelled from the CPI-M in June 2012, he headed the research unit of the party. Courtesy: kafila.com

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.