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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.