Thiruvananthapuram: For outsiders, the CPI(M) party congress’ decision to amend a key paragraph in the 90-day-old draft political resolution — which had the Central Committee stamp — may be the mere omission of a single word. For the party, however, it is a big deviation from its position since its inception 54 years ago.
This is the first time that a draft political resolution approved by the CPI(M) Central Committee has been amended.
While it clearly marks a vindication for party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, it undoubtedly is a setback for his colleague Prakash Karat, who has backed a doctrinaire approach of maintaining a clear distance from the Congress.
The official draft, backed by Karat, had said that the party should unite all secular democratic forces "without having an understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress party".
But in the amended document, it is now written that the party can unite secular democratic forces "without having a political alliance with the Congress party", thus keeping the door open for an electoral understanding.
The crucial amendment, which opens the doors to an “understanding” with Congress in the fight against BJP-RSS, can be seen as the victory of political pragmatism in tune with present-day politics.
However, history and statistics are not in favour of the CPI(M) with respect to either a direct or indirect understanding with the Congress.
A party insider says that in constituencies where the CPI(M) does not field a candidate, Left supporters anyway vote for the Congress since it the “lesser evil”.
"This is evident from the voting patterns in many places such as Delhi, where the CPIM is not strong. This support might have shifted to the AAP in the last elections when supporters had an option other than the Congress. A resolution is not needed for this to happen," says a party insider.
The source adds that there has never been quid pro quo from the Congress.
“Take Bhavnagar as an example, a place in Gujarat where the CPI(M) had a vote share between 30 and 35 percent till 2002. The Congress did not lend any support to the party in fighting the communal forces. In Himachal Pradesh, too, Rakesh Singha won from Theog while fighting on the corruption plank. The same happened in Rajasthan where the party is stronger. If the Congress is ready to support the CPM, its electoral gains will be much higher. But it won't happen due to the anti-Communist stand of the Congress party and its supporters," he added.
In Tripura, too, the Congress did not actively work against the BJP’s slogan of ‘Chalo Paltai (Let's Change)’ and ended up with a meagre 1.8 percent vote share, while the CPI(M) lost its bastion to the saffron brigade. Tripura was merely repeating the pattern in West Bengal, where the CPI(M) was down by 10.3 percent votes and ended up with 26 seats in 2016. The Congress recorded 3.2 percent increase in vote share and bagged 44 seats, replacing the Left party as the main opposition.
Theoretically, the line followed by the general secretary appears to be perfect. However, the resolution mentioned that “outside parliament, we should cooperate with all secular opposition forces for a broad mobilisation of people against communalism” — a clear pointer to 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
However, there was a concerted effort to paint those who supported the draft resolution, which endorsed no truck with Congress, as pro-BJP. The target was the CPI(M)’s Kerala unit leaders.
The Kerala unit is the party’s largest in the terms of cadre and equals the number of delegates (175) in West Bengal, where the Left is fast fading.
"It is a ridiculous allegation. Look at the Sangh Parivar campaigns targeted at Kannur and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. The comrades of Kannur are in a constant fight with the Sangh and are losing cadre to bloodshed unlike in any other place," said an observer.
WHAT TOOK PLACE DURING THE DISCUSSION
Three judgments from the past week — the Mecca Masjid blast case, the Judge Loya death case and the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case — may have prompted some delegates to re-think their position on an anti-BJP "understanding".
The anti-Yechury line adopted by Kerala delegates, one of whom called the general secretary an “opportunist”, wasn’t deemed befitting to the discussion at hand. "It lacked clarity. They behaved as if they had a whip from the top," said a senior CPI(M) leader.
According to sources, it was the timely intervention of Pinarayi Vijayan which calmed frayed nerves. "A situation where the party was heading for a split over a strategy against the enemy was unthinkable," a source said.
THE MINORITY VOTES AND 'MINORITY' DRAFT
The Kerala unit cannot imagine a situation where it is branded as “pro-BJP”. According to the party, the support from minority voters in Kerala, amounting to nearly 50 percent share, helped it win the last Assembly elections despite a drop of 7 to 8 percent votes from its Hindu base.