In what is being seen as veiled criticism of the state of affairs in the CPM during the decade when Prakash Karat as at the helm, current general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said organisational deviations such as lower units trying to please the leadership and telling it “what it would like to hear” instead of giving objective assessments have crept into the party.
The “phenomenon of strong likes and dislikes” on the part of the leadership, Yechury has said, produces “sycophancy” and a behaviour of “pleasing the leadership” on the part of the cadre. He has said assessments about election results from Kerala and West Bengal went off the mark because of either “subjective over-estimations” or local units simply conveying to the leadership what it wanted to hear.
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Karat was at the helm of the CPM from 2005 to 2015.
In an article in the party’s theoretical quarterly The Marxist, Yechury writes about the urgent need for combating subjectivism, which he said can “affect organisational decisions in a manifold manner.” He quoted Stalin as having once said that “the value of a good organiser lies in giving the right job to the right comrade”.
“Subjectivism prevents this from happening resulting in grievous consequences,” Yechury wrote. “This phenomenon of strong likes and dislikes on the part of the leadership produces its natural counterpart of encouraging sycophancy and a behaviour of ‘pleasing the leadership’ on the part of the cadre. This tendency leads to a dangerous phenomenon of reporting from lower levels being guided by ‘what the leadership wants to hear’ rather than giving a proper objective description and assessment of the situation.
“From our own experience during the last decade, we have seen how such a reporting from below has led to subjective overestimations, including from our outposts of Bengal and Kerala regarding the assessments of electoral results. Even after the polling was over, based on the reports sent by our booth committees, assessments were sent to the party centre regarding our performance. The actual results of these elections, however, show that our assessments were completely off the mark…
“Subjectivism, in terms of organisational work, can also lead to many grave distortions in terms of lack of comradely behaviour, individualism, unhealthy competition of ‘one-upmanship’ amongst comrades etc. Such manifestations inevitably lead to wrong assessments of the concrete situation, as well as further weakening our links with the people,” he added.
Yechury told The Indian Express that his article was not aimed at any individual. “What I have said is that subjectivism lays the fertile ground for sycophancy to rise. So we have to be guarded against it.”
So was it just a caution or a caution based on evidence? “It is a caution first of all. And the evidence behind the caution… wherever it happened, people will realise why this is happening and correct it. The idea is to correct it.”
Asked if this will not be seen as a criticism of his predecessor, Yechury said, “Wherever this was noticed, an effort was made to curb. There is nothing against anybody in this. It is an organisational deviation which need to be corrected.”