Not to dictate, but to listen and learn: CPM’s new mantra

However, the leadership refused to admit criticism by several state committee members that anti-incumbency sentiment against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his government led to the defeat.
CPM state secretary MV Govindan
CPM state secretary MV Govindan(Photo| Facebook)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finding itself pushed to the wall following the drubbing in the Lok Sabha election, the CPM, in an uncharacteristic move, publicly admitted that it had failed to effectively gauge the people’s sentiment.

In a curious shift in its style of functioning, the party said it’s willing to listen to the public. However, the leadership refused to admit criticism by several state committee members that anti-incumbency sentiment against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his government led to the defeat.

The CPM’s five-day summit that reviewed the poll outcome decided to chart out an elaborate course correction, including assigning priorities for the LDF government. The party felt that the government should act in a manner that would not alienate the masses and erode its base.

Briefing the media on Thursday on the decisions of the meet, CPM state secretary M V Govindan said the party would reach out to the masses, listen to them and take necessary corrective steps.

Realising that anti-incumbency against the LDF government played a crucial role in the defeat, the CPM has finalised major corrective measures. The party will hold four regional meetings that are to be attended by general secretary Sitaram Yechury and senior leader Prakash Karat, in addition to district-level meetings. Efforts would be taken in right earnest from the booth level to address the lapses.

“The regional meetings to be held on July 2, 3 and 4 are aimed at giving a new sense of direction to the party. Gatherings with the public will also be held at the local level before August 19, to lend them an ear as well as to convey our version of events,” said Govindan. Those who spoke at the state committee meet pointed fingers at major lapses in the home and finance departments.

CPM’s observations

  • Erosion of Ezhava and minority votes, in addition to the national political scenario and the possibility of the Congress forming a government led to LDF defeat

  • The Sangh parivar successfully made inroads into the SNDP leadership through BDJS. Vellappally Natesan’s remarks reflect a pro-RSS mindset in line with the Sangh parivar agenda.

  • Due to different reasons, a section within the Christian community too voted for the BJP this time.

  • Organisations like Jamaat-e-Islami, SDPI and Popular Front stood with the UDF

  • Delay in welfare pension disbursal too led to the poll verdict

CPM state secretary MV Govindan
CPM to finalise course correction measures

What change of style, asks M V Govindan

The arbitrary manner of functioning of the police drew severe criticism, as some leaders pointed out that there seemed to be too many power centres controlling the police. Listing out instances, at least 4 to 5 leaders directly criticised the chief minister. The failure in distributing welfare pensions also came in for criticism. It’s in this backdrop that the decision to set priorities was taken.

Remarks were also made in support of former health minister K K Shailaja, who did not find a place in the second Pinarayi cabinet.

People want Shailaja to remain in Kerala, and that’s why she was defeated in Vadakara, felt some leaders. In spite of such severe criticism squarely targeting him, Pinarayi chose not to respond to it. In his reply, Govindan, too, didn’t touch upon the condemnation.

In a rare development, many leaders who spoke during the state committee meeting, targeted the CM and the state government for failures.

Some directly criticised the chief minister’s style of functioning, body language, hostile approach and numerous instances that had sent out wrong signals to the general public, like those related to issues with microphone during his public speeches.

A few others chose to point out the difference between the first and second Pinarayi cabinets. While the first government had an array of senior and established hands, the second one is billed as weak. The current government is more on the lines of a ‘chief minister along with 19 shadows’, observed one who spoke at the meeting. LDF’s minority appeasement attempts, corruption allegations and failure to effectively counter these charges, too, came up for discussion.

However, Govindan stoutly defended Pinarayi. To a question on whether the CM intended to change his style of functioning, he retorted: “Exactly what style should he change? It’s under his CMship that the party got 99 seats and a historic continuity in office. There’s an attempt by a section of the media to portray Pinarayi in a certain manner. The CPM won’t support it,” he said.

Govindan said the party would look into all aspects that led to the defeat, including the criticism related to the police. Necessary corrections would be made. The party won’t support wrongdoings, whether it’s by leaders or workers, he added.

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