CPM not allying with Congress may spell victory for Pinarayi Vijayan but could prove wrong for party

The draft political resolution adopted by the central committee (CC) of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) ruling out an alliance with the Congress is being widely seen in Kerala as a personal victory for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Political observers say Vijayan rallying for all but one of the 14 central committee members from the state, against the draft political resolution presented by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury seeking a broad anti-communal platform, as an indication of his move to carve out a greater role for himself and the state unit of the party at the national level.

 CPM not allying with Congress may spell victory for Pinarayi Vijayan but could prove wrong for party

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Getty images

The alternate line advocated by former general secretary Prakash Karat was adopted by the central committee with a 55-31 vote at its meeting in Kolkata on 21 January. The Karat line opposing any alliance or understanding with the Congress was discussed threadbare in the local committee and district conferences in the state.

Vijayan had ensured support of the party committees for the Karat line by personally guiding the discussions in most of the district conferences. His interest in defeating Yechury is understandable since the latter had sided with his arch-rival VS Achuthanandan in their long power struggle in the state.

He has already decimated Achuthanandan, who once called the shots in the party, by shunting him to the Administrative Reforms Committee and clipping the wings of those leaders who were supporting him. His next target is apparently Yechury.

Vijayan had teamed up with Karat and three other politburo members MA Baby, S Ramachandran Pillai and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan to prevent Yechury from becoming the party chief at the last CPM congress in Vishakhapatnam three years ago.

This ‘clique’ had also played a key role in denying Yechury another term in the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal. Political observers believe that their next aim is to stall the second term for Yechury. They intend to hoist Ramachandran Pillai, popularly known as SRP, in place of Yechury.

“This will allow the clique to control the party remotely since SRP is old and confined mostly to AKG Bhavan, the party headquarters in New Delhi,” says NP Chekutty, a Kozhikode based senior journalist.

Chekutty told Firstpost that this will make the CPM a Kerala party and there was no ideology behind Karat’s line. It is the result of the personality clash and it may lead to a vertical split in the party after the Hyderabad congress, Chekutty said.

The main argument of the Kerala unit is that any alliance with the Congress may harm CPM’s prospects in the coming Lok Sabha poll since Congress is its major opponent in the state. This may not hold ground since minorities may view the anti-Congress line as pro-BJP.

Leaders of the minorities have already started expressing concern over the new political line proposed by the CPM. Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, Metropolitan of the Niranam Diocese of Jacobite Syrian Church, said he was shocked by the CPM resolution. The bishop, who is known for Left-leaning, said the decision would disappoint the secular forces in the country.

“CPM’s refusal to forge a broad alliance against the Sangh Parivar will make the communal forces happy but it will disappoint secularists. This is the second historical blunder that the CPM has committed since it has entered the electoral politics,” the bishop said.

The Congress, which is witnessing an erosion in its support base among the minorities, has described the new political line proposed by the CPM as an anti-minority move. Senior leaders of the party have viewed the resolution as the result of an understanding with the saffron party.

Party working committee member and former Union defence minister AK Antony said the resolution was a clear indication that the CPM was not interested in fighting the communal and fascist forces.

“The Kerala unit of the CPM is behind the new political line. The party leadership in the state want Modi more than protecting the secular fabric of our country. History will never forgive them, nor will the people of Kerala," the senior leader said terming the resolution as a betrayal of democratic forces.

Congress legislator Joseph Vazhakkan termed the new resolution as a gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shielding the chief minister in the SNC Lavalin scam. Vijayan is obliged to Modi for the clean chit he got in the case in the lower court, he added.

“The CPM is opposing electoral adjustments with the Congress citing its economic policies. Since he came to power in the state, the chief minister himself has been pursuing the neo-liberal policies followed by the Congress while it was in power at the Centre and now being implemented by the BJP,” he added.

He pointed out that Harvard professor Geetha Gopinath, who is the economic advisor of the chief minister, has been a strong advocate of liberal policies. She had justified the Modi government’s demonetisation that the CPM opposed tooth and nail, said Ashokan.

“If it is the policy that matters for the CPM, it should explain why it is trying to woo the Kerala Congress (M), a former Congress ally into the Left Democratic Front (LDF). The party’s anti-Congress line has nothing to do with ideology. It is sheer opportunism,” he added.

Vijayan’s support to the Karat line has come as a surprise to political observers since he is considered as an advocate of practical politics. Noted writer and social critic Prof MN Karaserry said that the resolution was not guided by political realities but narrow interests of the CPM.

“In rejecting the Yechury line, CPM has committed yet another historical blunder. It shows that the party has not learnt any lesson from its past mistakes. If the party is sincere in fighting the communal forces it should correct this mistake,” Karaserry said.

The decision has also disappointed the party’s allies in the LDF and its fellow travellers. The Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest constituent of the coalition, wondered how the CPM, that has no base outside Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura, could fight the communal forces alone.

“The need of the hour is a broad alliance against the BJP. I hope the CPM will realise this and take the lead in bringing together all democratic and secular forces against the BJP before the Lok Sabha polls,” said Benoy Viswam, former minister and member of the CPI state executive.

State leaders of the CPM have defended the resolution saying that the party would not be able to fight fascist forces without making its ideological base strong. Senior leader KT Kunhikannan said that the party’s attempt was to lead a larger struggle against the communal and fascist forces than making adjustments for electoral gains.

He pointed out that the party did not find any merit in joining hands with the Congress for fighting the communal forces since the saffron party is able to buy the elected representatives from other parties.

“We have seen this in Goa and Manipur. More than 80 percent of the leaders in the BJP now are former Congressmen. If we help Congress to win seats, what is the guarantee that they will not join the BJP? We are not here to supply MPs and MLAs to the BJP,” Kunhikannan added.

Updated Date: Jan 22, 2018 19:06:33 IST