The extended session of the CPMs state conference in Kolkata recently was marked by serious departures from the past for the party on more than one count. But the underlying message of the three-day meeting was clear: a rapidly declining confidence in the party and its crisis of leadership.
Contrary to the iron curtain of secrecy generally associated with such Communist party conferences and internal debates,the meeting this time was marked by calculated and deliberate leaks of what was happening within. These showed that leaders like Biman Bose a Politburo member and the CPMs West Bengal state secretary and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee were confronted by a large number of party workers.
Bhattacharjee was criticised for taking self-criticism and admission of mistakes too far which,many felt,eroded the partys confidence. As for Bose,there was a chorus for new faces to replace veterans like him who are believed to have lost the cutting edge. The predominant mood was to promote leaders such as Gautam Deb,Surya Kanta Mishra,Nirupam Sen etc.
In the presence of CPM all-India general secretary Prakash Karat,party leaders openly talked of the lack of a courageous leadership to take on corruption within the party and its failure to initiate the purge promised after the debacles in the 2011 state Assembly elections and recently the panchayat polls. Not many were willing to buy that it was terror unleashed by the Trinamool Congress or a biased administration that was solely behind Mamata Banerjees stunning defeats of Communists.
Karat himself was snubbed over CPM positioning ahead of the crucial 2014 general elections. While the general secretary vowed not to support the Congress in national politics under any circumstances,the Bengal comrades strongly advocated a shift from the policy of maintaining equidistance from the BJP and Congress and propagated keeping a channel open to extend support to non-communal,secular parties in national politics.
In short,pushed into a corner by Mamata,Bengal leaders made their preference for the Congress clear.
Subrata is Editor,Kolkata firstname.lastname@example.org