Will CPI(M) be a force to reckon with in Fed­eral Front?

Left par­ties are right in sens­ing that the present is an op­por­tune time to mo­bi­lize peo­ple on the is­sues of econ­omy, agrar­ian dis­tress and gen­er­a­tion of em­ploy­ment. But, will they lead any move­ment on this?

Alive - - Contents - by KV Venu­gopal

The elec­toral ver­dict in Tripura as­sem­bly elec­tion seems to have trig­gered a vol­ley of ac­tiv­ity among a large num­ber of Op­po­si­tion par­ties, as they seemed to be harp­ing on “save fed­er­al­ism”, to op­pose the rul­ing BJP-led Front in the next year Lok Sabha elec­tions. Not for noth­ing, the Te­len­gana Rash­tra

Samiti pres­i­dent and the Te­lan­gana Chief Min­is­ter K. Chan­drasekhara Rao met his West Ben­gal coun­ter­part Ma­mata Ban­er­jee re­cently at Kolkata to fa­cil­i­tate the process for a ma­jor op­po­si­tion unity by in­volv­ing var­i­ous other par­ties. The in­ter­est­ing point here is that though Rao would pre­fer an al­liance, sans non-Congress and non-BJP, Ma­mata would like to rope the Congress in the pro­posed al­liance. But what will be the role of the Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia (Marx­ist), con­sid­er­ing the fact that the CPI(M)-led Left Demo­cratic Front is rul­ing only in Ker­ala, with Tripura re­cently, and West Ben­gal from 2011 went out of their hand.

The CPI(M) that once con­sid­ered the Congress as its bête-noire, would not averse to have an al­liance with it, as the party now rates the BJP as its dead­ly­foe and would not leave any stone un­turned to opt for any sort al­liance that would re­place the present govern­ment at the Cen­tre. But, here the Marx­ists are in a stum­bling block, as

not­with­stand­ing the shat­ter­ing de­feat of the party in Tripura, its Ker­ala units may not be in­clined to be pre­pared for an al­liance with the Congress, as that might not only jeop­ar­dise its prospects in Ker­ala, but such a pact, would en­cour­age the BJP sta­te­u­nit to spread its wings by pro­ject­ing them­selves as the ma­jor Op­po­si­tion party for the rul­ing Left Front in the po­lit­i­cally-con­scious State. The CPI(M) is aware that the BJP has re­placed Congress as a ma­jor op­po­si­tion party in Odisha to the rul­ing Biju Janata Dal led by Navin Pat­naik and it has out­wit­ted both the Congress and the CPI(M) for the sec­ond-spot to the rul­ing Tri­namool Congress in West Ben­gal.

Per­cep­tion changed

The elec­tion re­sults in the North­east changed the per­cep­tion of the CPI (M). The party gen­eral sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury, in an ex­clu­sive interview to a renowned English Daily in Tamil Nadu, pointed out that that the BJP has cap­i­talised on the ven­ti­lated griev­ances of the peo­ple of Tripura for a long time, with its so­cial engi­neer­ing strat­egy. He also con­ceded the fact that in north­east there are mea­ger re­sources and there is no in­fra­struc­ture for in­dus­tries to grow, and large-scale em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble. How­ever, it is im­por­tant for Yechury and his com­rades to re­alise that there is al­ways a room for im­prove­ment. Will the CPI(M) ac­cept it in right

The elec­tion re­sults in the North­east changed the per­cep­tion of the CPI (M). The party gen­eral sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury, in an ex­clu­sive interview to a renowned English Daily in Tamil Nadu, pointed out that that the BJP has cap­i­talised on the ven­ti­lated griev­ances of the peo­ple of Tripura for a long time, with its so­cial engi­neer­ing strat­egy.

spirit, if the BJP fails to de­liver the goods in

Tripura, be­moans some BJP ac­tivists? Im­por­tantly, Sangh Pari­var was in an ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion, as it was the only Op­po­si­tion party to op­pose the rul­ing CPI(M)-led Front manned by Manik Sarkar govern­ment for a quar­ter cen­tury in Tripura, since Congress, which ruled the state once, and was a ma­jor op­po­si­tion for about 25 years, had caved in meekly when a large num­ber of their party mem­bers, in­clud­ing seven MLAs switched over to the BJP, prior to the elec­tion. What Yechury wanted to stress, al­beit in­di­rectly is, that the BJP’s elec­toral suc­cess has much to do with its com­pe­tence to weave a nar­ra­tive around its po­lit­i­cal in­tent and a clearcut agenda for gov­er­nance and the CPI(M) should make its ide­o­log­i­cal ap­peal in tune with the day-to-day re­quire­ment of the poor, down­trod­den and toil­ing masses. The party, which was ear­lier known to pos­sess ded­i­cated cadres, has to find a way to re­cover it­self, be­fore other par­ties that formed af­ter them, are try­ing to make rapid strides in the po­lit­i­cal arena.

The need

The CPI (M) is aware of the ground re­al­ity that even a pow­er­ful Op­po­si­tion needs a counter-nar­ra­tive, and not just arith­metic, if the pro­posed Fed­eral Front is keen on bring­ing down the present BJP Govern­ment at the Cen­tre. The party’s ap­pre­hen­sion that some of the par­ties are only play­ing for the gallery can­not be looked at as a mis­taken im­pres­sion. For in­stance, the no-con­fi­dence mo­tion pro­posed by the Tel­ugu De­sam Party led by N. Chan­drababu Naidu and the YSRCP led by Y.S. Chan­dramo­han Reddy against the BJP govern­ment in par­lia­ment ended in a laugh­ing stock for the Op­po­si­tion think-tank, as other op­po­si­tion par­ties like the TRS, Tri­na­mul Congress, AIADMK, and the Congress re­mained silent on the is­sue. In­ter­est­ingly, the Te­lan­gana and West

Ben­gal chief min­is­ters did not want to ex­press their party’s sup­port to the no­con­fi­dence mo­tion, as Rao would not like to see his ri­val Naidu gain an up­per hand, and Ma­mata would pre­fer to adopt a wait and watch sit­u­a­tion, as she is still hurt­ful over the Congress fail­ing to heed her party’s ad­vise for a joint con­test in Tripura. This ap­par­ently was the rea­son be­hind Ma­mata send­ing her party leader to the din­ner meet­ing of Op­po­si­tion par­ties or­gan­ised by the Congress leader and UPA chair­per­son So­nia Gandhi, whereas she did not hes­i­tate to at­tend the Fed­eral Front mooted by the TRS supremo. Now, the Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party pres­i­dent Sharad Pawar has fol­lowed the foot­steps of So­nia in invit­ing the Op­po­si­tion par­ties for a din­ner meet­ing.

In­ter­est­ingly, not only the TDP and YSRCP, had in­sisted on a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion sep­a­rately, but the AIADMK made a mock­ery of it by voic­ing its protest vo­cif­er­ously against it, whereas the TRS re­mained a passer-by. The AIADMK MPs even went to the ex­tent of di­vert­ing the is­sue by clam­our­ing for jus­tice to the Cau­very Man­age­ment Board. The un­ruly be­hav­iour of such MPs, made it eas­ier for the Lok Sabha Speaker Su­mi­tra Ma­ha­jan to ad­journ the pro­ceed­ings, even though the TDP and Sa­ma­jwadi Party MPs re­minded her, that with not less than 100 MPs protest­ing against the Union Bud­get and the Fi­nance Bill, amidst din and sur­charged at­mos­phere, the Govern­ment passed the

Bills with­out any dis­cus­sion. How­ever, the govern­ment chose to es­cape from fac­ing the no­con­fi­dence mo­tion un­der the pre­text of un­called-for­be­haviour by some Op­po­si­tion MPs, even though some BJP lead­ers would re­mind us that the party with three-fourth ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment need not get fright­ened over any non-con­fi­dence mo­tion, as even the com­bined op­po­si­tion would not have suc­ceeded in its at­tempts. In that re­spect, what egged on the TDP, YSRCP com­bine to ex­pect that the Central Govern­ment would be de­feated?

TDP vs YSRCP

Sources in the po­lit­i­cal cor­ri­dor as­sert that it is only a psy­cho­log­i­cal card played by the TDP and YSRCP to beat one an­other in their race for supremacy, as the as­sem­bly elec­tions to Andhra Pradesh and Te­lan­gana are also stated for next year. A sec­tion of the AIADMK lead­ers counter the SP and TDP’s crit­i­cism that the party led by Eda­paddi A Palanisamy, failed to ex­tend the sup­port for the Andhra Pradesh Govern­ment seek­ing spe­cial cat­e­gory sta­tus and State Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion Act, by stat­ing, that the AIADMK is no way con­nected with the prob­lem con­fronting the Chan­drababu Naidu govern­ment. A few in­sid­ers in the AIADMK point out that more than the is­sue; both the TDP and YSRCP are try­ing to up­stage one an­other to gain po­lit­i­cal mileage. If the state chief min­is­ter Chan­drababu Naidu was so se­ri­ous on the is­sue, what pre­vents him from rais­ing it for the last four years when the TDP was al­liance part­ner of the BJP in both the state and the central govern­ment?, ask AIADMK ac­tivists. More­over, did the TDP ex­tend its sup­port to the AIADMK, when as a ma­jor

The CPI(M) de­ci­sion in cer­tain as­pects has kept the party sup­port­ers in dis­be­lief. For in­stance, the Marx­ists did not find any­thing wrong in ex­tend­ing their party’s sup­port to the RJD led by Lalu Prasad in a par­tic­u­lar as­sem­bly elec­tion to Bi­har, de­spite his du­bi­ous track record, es­pe­cially in Fod­der Scam case. The CPI(M) too of­ten, has to rely on regional par­ties for ex­tend­ing its base.

op­po­si­tion party, the then gen­eral sec­re­tary Jay­alalithaa, de­clared a no­con­fi­dence mo­tion against the BJP govern­ment in 1999? Ask them, be­fore adding, the TDP on the con­trary sided with its al­liance part­ner, BJP led by A.B. Va­j­payee and Naidu, who was chief min­is­ter then too, even made use of the Prime Min­is­ter’s pa­thetic po­si­tion to ex­tract more ben­e­fits for AP.

Pos­si­bil­i­ties

A sec­tion of CPI (M) cadres ad­mit that the Third Front could form Gov­ern­ments only with the help of ei­ther the Congress or the BJP so far. Lead­ers like Cha­ran Singh, Chan­drasekhar, Deve Gowda, and I.K. Gu­jral ruled the des­tiny of the na­tion with the sup­port of Congress for a brief pe­riod, whereas V.P. Singh’s short­tenure as a Prime Min­is­ter had come to an abrupt end, when the BJP with­drew its sup­port, fol­low­ing the ar­rest of its se­nior party leader L.K. Ad­vani for un­der­tak­ing a pro­ces­sion for Ay­o­d­hya. In­ter­est­ingly, the CPI(M) too, ex­tended its sup­port to the Janata

Dal govern­ment led V.P. Singh from out­side, but its 50 MPs, could not pre­vent the in­evitable. How­ever, the BJP lead­ers would ap­por­tion the blame on the Left Par­ties, es­pe­cially the CPI(M), for with­drawal of sup­port to the Janata Party govern­ment led by Mo­rarji De­sai in 1979, and sub­se­quently ex­tend­ing its 22 MPs sup­port to the Janata(S) govern­ment led by Cha­ran Singh, formed with the out­side sup­port from Congress(I) led by Indira Gandhi. Did not the CPI(M) in­di­rectly en­cour­age its then bit­ter ri­val to cap­ture power in the 1980 Lok Sabha elec­tions, ask they?

The crit­ics of the CPI(M) would like to in­form us that the CPI(M)-led Left Front govern­ment, formed in al­liance with the Congress(S) led by Sharad Pawar in Jan­uary, 1980, af­ter the com­bine’s thump­ing vic­tory over the Congress(I) led by Indira Gandhi, lasted for only two years in Ker­ala, as the rank and file of both the par­ties were of­ten in con­fronta­tion, even though the then chief min­is­ter and the CPI(M) leader EK Naya­nar and the then Ker­ala Congress(S) pres­i­dent A.K. Antony were on good terms. Antony, who ear­lier ve­he­mently protested against the Congress(U) sup­port to Indira Gandhi to the Chig­ma­galur Lok Sabha by­elec­tion in Kar­nataka, ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion as Chief Min­is­ter in 1978, with­out even wait­ing at Raj Bhawan for the

Congress(U) leader Brah­mananda Reddy to con­vince him about the party’s de­ci­sion, did not hes­i­tate to switch-over to the band­wagon of Congress(I) with a large num­ber of party work­ers and loy­al­ist lead­ers like Vay­alar Ravi in 1982. It was left to an­other se­nior leader Unni Kr­ish­nan to take cud­gel on be­half of the Congress(S), as he saw to it that the party at least sur­vived in Ker­ala for name­sake with the solid Gulf votes back­ing him.

In dol­drums

The CPI(M) de­ci­sion in cer­tain as­pects has kept the party sup­port­ers in dis­be­lief. For in­stance, the Marx­ists did not find any­thing wrong in ex­tend­ing their party’s sup­port to the RJD led by Lalu Prasad in a par­tic­u­lar as­sem­bly elec­tion to Bi­har, de­spite his du­bi­ous track record, es­pe­cially in Fod­der Scam case. The CPI(M) too of­ten, has to rely on regional par­ties for ex­tend­ing its base. For in­stance, it al­ter­nated be­tween the

DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, and only when both the ma­jor Dra­vid­ian par­ties dis­carded the party in the last as­sem­bly elec­tions to

Tamil Nadu, it had no other al­ter­na­tive but to join the third front led by Vi­jaykant, only to emerge with a blank. Some po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors opine that, al­though the CPI(M) says that it does not be­lieve in elec­toral div­i­dends, it is not averse to cash­ing on it when it suits them po­lit­i­cally. For in­stance, the party that de­fended its stance on sup­port­ing the Cha­ran Singh govern­ment, be­cause of the RSS-BJP dual role in Janata Party, ad­mit­ted, al­beit in­di­rectly, that it took the de­ci­sion to ex­pand its base in Hindi-belt. If the CPI(M) was so al­ler­gic to the pres­ence of the RSS a BJP, why was it pre­pared to sup­port the V.P. Singh govern­ment in De­cem­ber, 1989, know­ing pretty well that it had to sur­vive with the bless­ings of Sangh Pari­var, its deadly-foe?, queries an RSS sym­pa­thiser.

Third Front

Yechury’s interview and his ear­lier state­ment con­firmed that the CPI(M) knows the im­prac­ti­ca­bly of the BSP and SP forg­ing an al­liance for a long time to come. The party is aware that the bon­homie re­sult­ing from such a mar­riage of con­ve­nience be­tween the two ma­jor par­ties in Ut­tar Pradesh, known for their con­tin­u­ous bit­ter ri­valry, would fade away af­ter the next year Lok Sabha elec­tions. The Marx­ists ex­pe­ri­enced shell-shock when the Sa­ma­jwadi Party supremo Mu­layam Singh ex­tended his party’s sup­port to the Man­mo­han Singh govern­ment in 2008, af­ter the with­drawal of Left Par­ties to the then govern­ment at Cen­tre on the is­sue re­lated to nu­clear deal with the U.S. govern­ment. Like­wise, the CPI(M) is aware that the BJD govern­ment led by Navin Pat­naik in Odisha will not set­tle for a Fed­eral Front com­pris­ing the Congress. In Tamil Nadu, the CPI(M) will only be in­dulging in a day­dream, if it thinks that the DMK and AIADMK will come to­gether on a com­mon plat­form. Such a step at­tempted by the then Janata(S) leader Biju Pat­naik in late 1979, al­beit at the in­sis­tence of his party leader Cha­ran Singh went in vain. The Janata Dal(United) led by its Bi­har chief min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar, and Akali Dal will not en­ter the Fed­eral

The Marx­ists ex­pe­ri­enced shell-shock when the Sa­ma­jwadi Party supremo Mu­layam Singh ex­tended his party’s sup­port to the Man­mo­han Singh govern­ment in 2008, af­ter the with­drawal of Left

Par­ties to the then govern­ment at Cen­tre on the is­sue re­lated to nu­clear deal with the U.S. govern­ment. Like­wise, the CPI(M) is aware that the BJD govern­ment led by Navin Pat­naik in Odisha will not set­tle for a Fed­eral Front com­pris­ing the Congress.

Front in the company of RJD and Congress.

The CPI(M) will be fac­ing an up­hill of de­cid­ing whether to go for an al­liance with the Congress or not in the en­su­ing CPI(M) Congress at Hy­der­abad. It may be re­called that in their Polit Bu­reau meet­ing at Kolkata in Jan­uary this year, the Res­o­lu­tion adopted by the party favoured the stance of its former gen­eral sec­re­tary Prakash Karat, that it will have no truck with the Congress, al­though Yechury has pre­pared a Draft for in­clu­sion of the Congress, to be dis­cussed in the com­ing Conclave. A prom­i­nent Marx­ist leader, who pre­ferred to speak on a con­di­tion of anonymity, said that his party is ex­pected to wit­ness a stormy ses­sion in Hy­der­abad, sim­i­lar to the heated ex­changes tran­spired be­tween the Ben­gal and Ker­ala com­rades dur­ing the 1982 party Congress at Vi­jayawada, over the party’s de­ci­sion to shun aside the Mo­rarji govern­ment when the sit­u­a­tion war­ranted for its sup­port.

United Op­po­si­tion

The BJP na­tional pres­i­dent Amit Shah re­cently said that the com­ing to­gether of Op­po­si­tion par­ties on a com­mon front would au­gur well for his party’s growth in the long-run. If it was Indira Gandhi ver­sus Op­po­si­tion in the yes­ter­year, it is go­ing to be the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ver­sus Op­po­si­tion now, Shah said with­out minc­ing words. It is the here the Op­po­si­tion par­ties, as Yechury ap­pre­hended, should make it clear that they will not cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion like Janata im­broglio or the one faced by V.P. Singh, if the elec­torate de­cide to ex­er­cise their fran­chise to the

Fed­eral Front in the com­ing gen­eral elec­tion.

The usual clichés like the rul­ing BJP is only marginally ahead of us per­cent­age-wise will not ap­peal to the peo­ple hence­forth, sim­i­lar to what the then So­cial­ist and Lok Dal leader and former Bi­har Chief Min­is­ter Kar­poori Thakur used to mur­mur time and again in 1970s that the Congress was rul­ing the coun­try only with a mere 36%.

It is time for the CPI(M) to mo­bilise peo­ple on is­sues re­lated to the econ­omy, agrar­ian dis­tress and gen­er­a­tion of em­ploy­ment. The party, how­ever, need to be lauded for its suc­cess on mas­sive Kisan rally to Ma­ha­rash­tra, led by its peas­ants-wing re­cently. The party sup­port­ers are hop­ing against hope that the CPI(M) would from nowon­wards con­cen­trate more on such mass move­ments, rather than fo­cus­ing only on elec­tion vic­to­ries and short­term gain in politics. The Polit Bu­reau and the

Central Com­mit­tee should not be dom­i­nated by some com­rades and ad­e­quate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of back­ward caste com­mu­ni­ties in such high bod­ies are to be looked into in right earnest, they rea­soned and added, im­por­tantly, no other gen­eral sec­re­tary of the party should be forced to re­sign, like the one that hap­pened to the former gen­eral sec­re­tary P. Sun­daraya, al­beit at the in­sis­tence of an­other vet­eran leader and late B.T. Ranadive in the past.

Ad­her­ence

Some CPI(M) lead­ers are hope­ful that their party will fol­low what they preach. For in­stance, the party con­stantly states that it would pre­fer nam­ing the Chief Min­is­ter or the Prime Min­is­ter only af­ter the elec­tion. How­ever, in the last as­sem­bly elec­tion to Tamil Nadu, the party did not find it wrong in join­ing the Third Front that pro­posed the name of Vi­jaykant as CM can­di­date be­fore the poll. The party loy­al­ists are anx­ious to know whether it will take up the is­sue of merger with the CPI in the com­ing CPI(M) Congress, as ac­cord­ing to them, only the com­ing to­gether of both the Com­mu­nist par­ties would strengthen the Com­mu­nist move­ment and keep a check­mate on the di­vi­sive forces and bour­geoisie par­ties. But will that be too much to ex­pect from the CPI(M) now, con­sid­er­ing the present pi­quant sit­u­a­tion, in which they are en­meshed in? The moot point, how­ever is, the Left Par­ties do not set any dead­line for is­sues con­cern­ing, if not con­fronting the peo­ple.

BJP scales a re­sound­ing vic­tory in Tripura and dec­i­mated CPI(M) there.

CPI(M) Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury.

Left party cadres in a rally.

Op­pos­tion lead­ers on the din­ner party, in­vite by Congress leader So­nia Gandhi.

The ma­jor up­com­ing elec­tion.

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