Inner-party criticism can help CPM recover

While the decision to listen to people is constructive, the party must see the re-emergence of inner-party criticism as a positive fallout of the defeat and grab the opportunity to correct lapses.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Photo | Express

Critical voices within the CPI(M) in Kerala are growing bolder. It is a welcome sign for a party that is trying to chart a way forward after the rout in the parliamentary elections that underscored a potentially debilitating erosion of support. While the party publicly admitted only to failing to gauge the people’s sentiments, what transpired in the recent meeting of its state committee underlined a serious introspection and pointed towards a much-needed course correction.

Several members are said to have accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s style of functioning and his government’s lapses. That not all in the CPI(M) were happy with the government’s performance or happenings in the party was known; but it is only now that some have gathered the courage to speak out. It’s a sign that Vijayan’s long-standing grip over the party could be weakening and inner-party democracy is getting a chance.

The home (handled by the CM himself) and finance departments were singled out for admonition. Some members were surprisingly direct in their attack of the CM, pointing out his body language and hostile disposition, and even listed out instances that contributed to his “arrogant” image. Some sought to bring out the contrast between the first and second Pinarayi cabinets, emphasising how his first term had a ministry packed with experience and efficiency. “One chief minister and 19 shadows” is how one of them described the present cabinet. LDF’s apparent minority appeasement attempts and corruption allegations were also loudly talked about.

Dissent can prompt correction and lead to more effective administration. But for the party to take effective corrective steps, it must admit to mistakes that go far beyond merely miscalculating the situation. The performance of the second Pinarayi government has been uninspiring, to say the least. The CM’s image has taken a severe beating and has become a burden for the party.

The anti-government and anti-CPI(M) sentiments are real. The party has yet to admit these. Instead, it has chosen to blame communities and groups for not voting for the party and political rivals for making inroads into its vote bank. This smacks of a defeatist mentality. While the decision to listen to people is constructive, the party must see the re-emergence of inner-party criticism as a positive fallout of the defeat and grab the opportunity to correct lapses.

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