20080510

A Bend To The Right

CPM Party Congress


The Buddhadeb line gains ground at Coimbatore, but talk of a third front is headed nowhere, reports KA SHAJI


ELECTORAL ARITHMETIC seems to be too much for transformative politics to solve. The 19th Party Congress of the CPM ended with a resolve to take the initiative in floating a national-level third front, but the party seems to have learnt little from the bitter United Front and National Front experiences. General Secretary Prakash Karat and Politburo member Sitaram Yechury preferred to remain silent when asked to name parties with an “alternative platform of policies” that the CPM is looking to tie up with. There have been few takers for the CPM’s offer other than a few members of the now defunct UNPA. Moreover, parties like the DMK, RJD and NCP seem more concerned with continuing with the existing UPA.

In Karnataka, the fiasco of the Janata Dal (Secular)’s alliance with the BJP is making the comrades nervous of approaching it. And delegates from Andhra Pradesh and UP complained that Chandrababu Naidu and Mulayam Singh Yadav were even more neo-liberal than the Congress. In such a situation, talk of a third alternative and transformative politics remains so much rhetoric. Why not, then, initiate dialogue with the Maoist outfits, which share the CPM’s concerns on imperialism, Hindutva and neo-liberalism? Sitaram Yechury confronted this question on the first day of the congress by saying that there cannot be a dialogue with them until they lay down arms. However, there was no reply when asked about the CPM’s refusal to accept the disarming of Maoist groups in Nepal as a precondition for their entering into a dialogue with mainstream parties there.

Nor was there any talk of aligning with people’s movements or including civil society groups into the third alternative.The growing clout of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in the party is preventing such a dialogue. The congress also showed little care for Left unity. Though CPI general secretary AB Bardhan was a guest of honour at the inaugural function, no leader of the other Left parties — RSP and Forward Bloc — was invited. In its organisational report, the CPM even stressed the need for fighting the RSP and Forward Bloc “politically and organisationally”.

The congress, which marked an end of the Jyoti Basu-Harkishan Singh Surjeet era, was also reflective of the CPM’s changed perspective on FDI, industrialisation and displacement. The CPM’s stand that it alone will not be able to stop SEZs came as a rude shock to nine delegates from Maharashtra who wanted a blanket ban on them. The elevation to the Politburo of West Bengal Industry Minister Nirupam Sen, the architect aggressive economic reforms, is another example. A second new face in the Politburo is Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a similar proponent of “reform”.


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