VISAKHAPATNAM : If the Janata Parivar is picking up the splinters of the last one decade to reunite under a single umbrella, the CPI-M began its 21st party Congress in Vizag on Tuesday with a clarion call for broad left unity. Identifying “unbridled” market economy and “communal” social agenda in politics as issues that need to be fought with vigour, the party Congress, in a way, decided to maintain equi-distance from both the Congress and the BJP.
No more falling for the role of forging ‘secular tactical’ alliance with forces and parties with whom the CPI-M has little commonality on economic issues and other policy matters. Instead, the party will work on Left unity, including smaller far and fringe SUCI and CPI-ML, to reclaim its base.
Opting for tactical alliance, particularly in Bihar and UP, the CPI-M leaders, the Karat faction in particular, felt has led to severe erosion of the Left’s once formidable base. So, the 21st party Congress in a way would be trying to adopt a draft political technical line that helps it reclaim past glory. Indeed with political survival on top of their mind, by Tuesday evening when CPI-M top rung sat down in search of a bounce back line - going back to the basics appeared the only option.
So, there will be old style Left politics played on the streets - protests and agitations against anti-people, anti-poor policies and sectarian divisive agenda. As much fight against ban on beef as on opening up of sectors to increasing foreign direct investment.
The other emphasis, on the first day, was on retaining and cementing Left unity. The reason: CPI-M organisational draft report cited how the LDF (Left alliance in Kerala) faced a set up in the Lok Sabha elections. Senior politburo member MA Baby lost out in Kollam LS seat, in Kerala, after RSP walked out of the Left alliance to join the Congress-led UDF.
The draft report also made it amply clear that attempts to make alliance with secular parties does not help the CPI-M grow independently. Going for tie ups with major regional parties in states where the CPI-M/Left presence is wobbly, the report said has proved detrimental. But in states where it has a stronghold, it can carry off such alliance.
However, it was not all a bonhomous tango. While Prakash Karat faction wants to take the party away from alliances with the non-Left, the opposite side wants to keep the options open. The latter would like the party to take a final call, nearer elections - 2019, if not before the West Bengal assembly polls.
Much would depend on whether Sitaram Yechury takes over from Karat as the next general secretary, and pragmatism and not textbook ideologue rules.