CPM's shrinking ground in national politics behind Prakash Karat vs Sitaram Yechury fight

With hours remaining for a thrilling climax to the ideological fight in CPM between two political lines, Express takes a look at the shrinking ground for the Left.

Published: 20th April 2018 10:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2018 11:06 AM   |  A+A-

CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, along with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, party politburo member Prakash Karat and other leaders attend the five-day- long 22nd Congress at RTC Kalyana Mandapam in Hyderabad on Wednesday. (PTI)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: With hours remaining for a thrilling climax to the ideological fight in CPM between two political lines led by Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury respectively, Express takes a look at the shrinking ground for the Left in states other than Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. It's this alarming scenario that led to an alternative political line in the party.

Its fast shrinking vote percentage across the country is a major cause of worry for the Left.

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While the CPM polled 0.71 percent votes in Bihar in 2010,  it was down to just 0.6 percent in 2015. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, the party could garner only half of its previous vote share in the last elections, that too by contesting in 26 seats compared to 17 seats in the previous time. All Left parties together could not gain even one percent of the votes.

The story is almost the same in Punjab. Compared to 2012 when the party contested nine seats, the vote share dipped to just half from 12 seats during the last election. In Uttarakhand, the vote share became one third in the last election, compared to 2012. 

Look at Tamil Nadu. All it could gain was just 0.7 percent vote share from 25 seats. In Assam, the the percentage went down further as the party got only 0.6 percent from 19 seats. All the Left parties together got only 0.9 percent.

Despite the shrinking vote percentage, the CPM units in some states are adamant in their stance against allying with the Congress.

Though it was the Kerala unit that spearheaded the attack against Yechury's political tactical line at the Party Congress on Thursday, delegates from a few other states too did not spare their punches.

Sources said that except for one, almost all delegates from Telangana and Andhra were highly critical of the proposal to join hands with the Congress. While one of the delegates termed Yechury a revisionist, another felt that the Left should in no way join forces with its class enemy.

Of the three representing Kerala at the discussion, Ernakulam district secretary P Rajeeve and Kollam district secretary KN Balagopal spoke on Thursday. There was a general feeling that Rajeeve would set the ground for Kerala's stance, while KK Ragesh would take it forward, with KN Balagopal imparting the finishing touch. 

"Beginning the onslaught on the alternative line, Rajeeve said the same would be akin to questioning the very identify of the party. The Kerala delegates -in general- pointed out that any kind of understanding with the Congress would be in violation of the party programme  which tags both BJP and Congress as imperialist and capitalist. How can the Left join hands with such a party," asked one of the delegates. KN Balagopal too voiced support of the Karat line in the evening on behalf of the Kerala unit.

Assam and Himachal Pradesh party delegates too were quick to reject the Yechury line during discussions. "Who let the party secretary sabotage the political line taken at the last Party Congress? We have organised agitations against the corrupt practices of the Congress-led government. How can we now even think of a tie-up with them?" one of the delegates asked. 

Left unity

In a curious development, a couple of CPM state leaderships have started mooting third front proposals, while the fact remains that the CPM was unable to bring together all the Left parties under a single umbrella in many states.

The Telangana CPM has already floated the idea of a rainbow alliance of around 28 parties. "In addition to CPM, other parties like MCPI, RSP, MBT, BSP, AAP, T Loksatta, Telangana Labour Party and Bagunana Rajyadhikara party are expected to be part of such an alliance. The initial discussions have begun. The front would function on the common premise on how the Dalits and the minority sections are not being given their due," said Telangana CPM secretary Veerbhadran.  

Unlike in Kerala, where the Left is in a comparatively comfortable position, the political scenario seems different in many other states.

In states like Bihar, the CPI(ML) does not stand with the Left. In Kerala and West Bengal, the SUCI is not with the Left front. Even in Kerala, prominent Left parties like the RSP and the Forward Bloc are with the Congress-led United Democratic Front. 

That could be one reason that the CPI, while repeatedly underscoring the need for Left unity, reiterates its position of a wide Left, secular, democratic platform - obviously including the Congress - as the immediate need of the hour.

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