KANNUR: When CPM wound up its 22nd party congress in 2018, the party was a divided house. It was an unpleasant culmination of a hard-fought inner-party political squabble. The Prakash Karat-led Kerala CPM and Sitaram Yechury-led West Bengal faction openly fought over a proposed tactical political line - whether the CPM should go for an electoral alliance with the Congress or not. In an unprecedented manner, the general secretary was cornered in both the central committee and the politburo. There were talks of even replacing the general secretary after his first term. Yechury finally emerged successful, and managed to get some elbow room in the process.
Four years down the line, the CPM’s political resolution at the 23rd party congress was approved without any major amendments. Even while it’s being perceived as a victory of the Kerala CPM ensuring that the party won’t go for any electoral truck with the Congress, it’s more or less a collective decision by the party. That it has finally dawned on the party to move with the times is also evident from the way the leadership has been trying to sell the Kerala model, in a bid to showcase the only remaining red bastion in the country.
In fact it is Yechury, once the major proponent of a Congress alliance, who is now paradoxically critical of any political truck with the party. He has not minced words in asking the Congress to set its house in order, if it wants to fight the BJP and the saffron party’s communal agenda. The West Bengal unit, which had two electoral tie-ups with the Congress in the past, has also not been vocal on an alliance with the party.
Undoubtedly, it’s a victory for the Kerala CPM, specifically for Pinarayi Vijayan who has been quite upfront in tackling the Yechury faction.
The fact that the political resolution toes the ‘Kerala line’ and that the Kerala CPM got more representation in the new CC is a reflection of Pinarayi’s growing grip in the party. At the same time, the fact remains that with dwindling membership, the West Bengal unit has become too weak to put up a solid fight.
The Kerala CPM too has softened its position. The party has realised that it’s now a fight for existence. The CPM is facing a shrinking electoral and political space in the country which has in turn set in a sense of urgency even within the Kerala CPM that has been vocal in its criticism of the Yechury line. Going by party documents, the CPM is on a downward spiral in almost all states, except Kerala. The CPM now wants to project itself as the only coherent force that can take on the BJP, said political analyst J Prabhash.
“Currently, there is no coherent force in the country other than the BJP. The CPM wants to fill that space. It wants to send a strong signal that only it can counter the BJP at the national level. The attempt to rise to that level lends some sort of psychological boost to the party. It would also hopefully change people’s perception about the party,” he said. The CPM is on a last-ditch attempt to remain relevant in the national political scene. The current show of unity within the party is undoubtedly the first and foremost step in this direction.