Change or perish. With this fundamental truth finally dawning on the CPM, the party’s Kerala leadership has decided to change. Better late than never, but it remains to be seen how strong is its resolve to change and how effective are its methods given the party’s inherent aversion to move with the times and the leadership’s reluctance to admit to mistakes.
A report by CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, while underlining the need for a course correction and suggesting measures to preserve the party’s support base, said leaders must stop being arrogant and be polite while dealing with the public. The report was discussed for three days at the party’s state secretariat. Now, it’s being discussed at the party’s state committee, the highest decision-making body as far as the state unit is concerned. That a basic fact such as political leaders need to be people-friendly requires lengthy discussions shows what is essentially wrong with the CPM.
The arrogance of CPM leaders stems from a sense of invincibility that they have always nurtured. That sense should have been shattered by the party’s disastrous show in the 2019 general elections. However, though there’s a clamour within the party for a course correction, the behaviour of some of its leaders and the manner in which the party-led government has handled many issues post elections haven’t been very encouraging. Take for example the suicide of an NRI businessman in Kannur. Though some of its leaders were clearly in the wrong and the public sentiment was against them, the party and the government stood by them.
The party feels its biggest challenge now is countering its supporters’ increasing tilt towards right-wing politics. While that is true, the party must also understand its shortcomings, admit to mistakes and be prepared to adopt changes if it wants to stay relevant in the long term. The fact is that the party has failed to implement course-correction measures agreed upon at earlier meetings, both at state and national levels. Why should it be any different this time around?