At CPM conclave, no lessons from losses & lot of good literature

Instead of delving into causes of their defeats, Marxists resorted to a worn-out political vocabulary and offered platitudes as explanations


Ajay Singh | April 12, 2012

If a political party has to be judged by the quality of rhetoric and platitudes it produces, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) would evidently appear to be caught in a time warp. The six-day congress, the highest decision-making body of the party, at Kozhikode in Kerala turned out an exercise for reiteration of a worn-out political vocabulary which characterised the Marxist discourse six decades ago.

Historically, Kozhikode occupies a unique place in the communist movement, which took the shape of a party in a small room of this township in 1937. Within two decades, the party grew in strength and formed the first communist government in Kerala. In the sixties and seventies, Marxism emerged as an idea which was unstoppable and would ultimately conquer the world. But nostalgia is a seductive liar. It prods you to indulge in delusional grandeur and ignore the ground reality.

How else would one explain the description of North Korea as a socialist country in documents of the congress? Similarly the party’s formulation on China’s growth trajectory seemed more like an apology than exultation over the rise of a socialist nation. There is no doubt that the political and ideological resolutions produced in the congress would only enrich the existing communist literature which often gives perceptive analysis of the international situation.

But back home the communist movement has been facing the worst crisis in India. And the six-day conclave conveniently skipped the issue. For instance, the CPM leadership must have introspected the cause for the party’s decimation in West Bengal after 34 years of unhindered rule. Over three decades of Marxist regime in West Bengal had only pushed the state to the backwater. The reason is not far to seek. The model of governance was such that its only emphasis was management of elections. And the CPM was largely successful in this endeavour till it met its nemesis in Mamata Banerjee.

Bereft of discipline, ideology and cadre, Mamata’s emergence as replacement of the CPM is an index of degradation and irrelevance to which the party’s leadership has fallen. In the Kozhikode congress, the party leadership was expected to evaluate the reasons for the drifting away of the CPM support base to Mamata’s outfit which is apparently anarchic. Instead what we got was platitudes in the form of explanation.

Similarly, the party chose to ignore the grave infighting within its Kerala unit which ultimately led to its defeat in the 2011 assembly election. The running feud between Pinarayi Vijayan and VC Achuthanandan is nothing but a power struggle of the worst kind in which the party cadre gets divided. Despite the deepening of this fault line, the party leadership chose to paper over the rift. This ongoing struggle was also reflected at the top when ideological and political resolutions met with feeble resistance from some delegates. This gave rise to speculation of a rift between Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury. And the manner in which the leadership conducted itself in the congress lent credence to the speculation.

The party leadership found Tripura to be the only encouraging story to be told to delegates. Obviously the Tripura model of governance promoted by Manik Sarkar is a classic case which shows how a determined state leadership can develop a unique model of its own. Though Tripura has not been posting a double-digit growth rate, the state has surged far ahead of others in terms of social contentment and human development. The literacy rate has phenomenally increased while school and health facilities are universally available. In sharp contrast to its turbulent past, the state has become an oasis of peace in the troubled northeast region. By all account, Tripura offers a ray of hope to the Marxist leadership.

Yet the conclave chose not to talk about indigenously developed political model in India and drew inspiration from the Arab spring and exulted over economic discomfiture of advanced capitalist countries. They predicted imminent demise of capitalism and rise of “scientific socialism” as its natural corollary.

Ironically, while the CPM leadership sees itself as the natural inheritor of the Marxist legacy and scientific socialism, the ground reality indicates its shrinking support base within the country. What appears quite disturbing is the fact that the CPM has been ceding ground to anarchist forces like Mamata and the Maoists. But the party leadership seems blissfully oblivious to these challenges.



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