With its mass base eroding in Kerala, the CPM has decided to hit a corrective course.
Following four-day-long deliberations, the CPM last week chalked out several strategies to reach out to people. These include bringing a section of Hindus, who were alienated from the party over the issue of the entry of women into Sabarimala, back to the party fold; leaders shedding “arrogant” behaviour and dissuading cadres from resorting to violence.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media that the party has to take on not only the Congress-led UDF, but also the BJP. “Organisational changes should happen, factoring in the challenge raised by BJP with the support of the government at the Centre and the strong RSS network in Kerala,” he said.
Balakrishnan said there had been an “erosion” in the party’s mass base. “The party got only 35 per cent votes in the recent Lok Sabha elections, as compared to 48 per cent in the 2006 Assembly elections. The lost ground would be regained and expanded,” he said.
He said the UDF and the BJP had run a campaign that the CPM was against the faithful. This campaign had alienated a section of them from the party. “The CPM is not against the faithful. The party is not against its cadres and sympathisers remaining faithful,” he said.
CPM’s comeback mantra
The CPM is making a desperate attempt to win back lost ground in Kerala. A common thread of its corrective steps is not to fight against dominating sentiment of the masses. Be it a matter of religious faith or political violence, CPM wants to respect the prevailing popular sentiment. By telling that the party is not against the faith or faithful in the Sabarimala issue, the party has jettisoned the progressive approach of gender equality it had adopted in the issue. The decision to make its motto “development and peace’’ reflects the change the party wants to adopt in Kerala to win over the middle class electorate.
The CPM had earlier identified that the government-backed entry of young women to Sabarimala temple following a Supreme Court verdict and the political violence by party cadres in north Kerala among the factors that led to the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections.
On Friday, Balakrishnan said cadres should take an initiative to bring “secular-minded people” among Dalits and environmentalists to the party. “No worker should get involved in activities that alienate the party from the people or lead to loss of mass base. Party leaders and workers should act with humility to win the love of people,” he said.
Amid allegations by the Opposition that the state government is controlled by CPM factions, Balakrishnan said the party should not function as a power centre. “Decisions on issues or disputes that come up before the party should not be implemented forcefully. Such issues should be left to the legal methods,” he said.
The CPM Politburo member said the party would give a strict directive to workers not to get involved in political violence. “There should not be a situation in which party is blamed for political violence. Party workers would take an initiative to end violence and rogue elements would be corrected,” he said.
Referring to floods and landslides that hit the state two years in a row, Balakrishnan said the party would make environmental protection the top of its agenda. “There should be a change in the present approach — that a house can be constructed on any land. To reduce the pressure on natural resources, the construction sector should ensure minimal use of sand and rock. Hereafter, the construction of party offices would be in tune with that approach,” he said.