Staring at an existential crisis after the party’s worst defeat since it came into being four and a half decades ago, the CPM top leadership met here for an introspection session for two days but ended up triggering a blame game.
The central leadership made it clear that the party would analyse all factors that led to the defeat in Kerala, including whether the handling of the Sabarimala issue by the Pinarayi Vijayan government cost the party dearly in the Lok Sabha elections.
Sources said the central leadership was of the view that the Kerala unit could not gauge the mood shift among the Hindu devotees and the alienation of minorities. Congress president Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad perhaps attracted the minorities to the Congress, adding to the party’s woes.
The state unit, however, believes the party central leadership’s soft attitude towards the party at the national level was a factor as it created a perception that the Congress along with other opposition parties could be in a position to upstage the BJP regime and form an alternative government, Kerala leaders argued. The CPM had tried to enter into a seat-sharing pact with the Congress in West Bengal and the two were part of the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu.
The electoral base of the party, the Politburo said, saw a big erosion in its strongholds.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the party would look into all issues that led to the debacle in Kerala. Asked whether the party now feels the Vijayan government should not have taken the stand it had taken on the Sabarimala issue, Yechury said, “These are the issues that are being reviewed. There is various opinion, reports will come in and we will have to go by the ground reports on how and which issues impacted us. That will happen. That is an exercise we will definitely….we are already undertaking. The process has begun.”
As for West Bengal, Yechury said some “additional factors” came into play there. He said the Trinamool Congress and the BJP played politics in tandem and argued the “competitive communalism” that both of them engaged in resulting in sharpening of polarisation, which shrunk the space for democratic activity.
Asked whether anyone would take responsibility for the debacle and step down, he said accountability is always practised in the CPM and as the general secretary of the party he would take the responsibility. He said the CPM believes in the principle of collective functioning and “amongst the equals in the collective… I am the first one being the general secretary… so I take the responsibility.”