The CPM, fighting irrelevance and in retreat across India, is wracked by debate on strategy. Sitaram Yechury has opposed a Politburo decision drafted by general secretary Prakash Karat to revise a 35-year-old tactical line that has brought the party significant success, but seems to be flagging of late. MANOJ C G reports
THESIS AND ANTITHESIS
The starting point is the political-tactical line adopted by the party at the Jalandhar Congress in 1978, which called for building a left and democratic front, to be converted subsequently into a people’s democratic front. That is, to stitch “united fronts” with what the CPM labels bourgeois-landlord parties.
THE JALANDHAR LINE helped hoist third front governments at the Centre in 1989 and 1996, and the party grew strongly in West Bengal. However, it shrank outside its spheres of influence.
THE CRITICISM NOW is that the Jalandhar line weakened the party’s independent initiatives, hampered its growth and blurred its identity. Also, that it failed to analyse the neo-liberal economic agenda, its impact on the people, and ways to counter it. Deliberations at the two-day Politburo meeting in September produced, earlier this month, a draft report that pinned the blame for the CPM’s decline on the Jalandhar line.
Points of view
DRAFT REPORTS, prepared ahead of the once-in-three-years party Congresses, are generally drawn up by the CPM general secretary and the Politburo member in charge of organisation: in this case, Prakash Karat and S Ramachandran Pillai.
THE OPPOSING LINE has been articulated by Sitaram Yechury, who argued in the Politburo that the problem was not with the political-tactical line, but with its implementation. He was in a minority, but after two days of discussion in the ongoing Central Committee meeting, there are signs that his line might be gaining some traction.
What happens now
THE PARTY CONGRESS is the CPM’s highest decision-making body. Only the Congress, attended by hundreds of delegates across the country, can give final approval to a revision of the political-tactical line. The next Congress is scheduled in Visakhapatnam in April 2015. The Politburo’s draft is now with the Central Committee, which may make changes before sending it to the Congress.
B V RAGHAVULU, who was CPM State Secretary of undivided Andhra Pradesh, and is now one of the younger members of the Politburo, has placed a separate note before the CC, which opposes Yechury’s line, and seeks to strengthen the official draft further. Raghavulu is known to be a staunch supporter of Karat.
M V RAGHAVAN, once a firebrand leader of the Kerala CPM, was expelled after he proposed an alternative party line, seeking an alliance with the IUML and the Christian Kerala Congress to take on the Congress in the state. The line — which argued against the ideological rigidity of EMS Namboodiripad —was rejected at the state conference in Kochi in 1985. E K Nayanar, who had helped draw up the alternative line, ditched Raghavan at the last moment.