The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is facing its most trying times since its split from the undivided Communist Party of India in 1964. Much to the embarrassment and discomfiture of the party, a political light weight Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary of at the all-India women&’s wing, walked out from the Central Committee (CC) meeting (June 18-20), in protest against the Politburo (PB). This followed a stormy debate over the decision of the West Bengal CPI-M to forge an alliance’ with the Congress ahead of the Assembly election. Sangwan claimed that the Politburo was blackmailed by the state unit to treat the jot not as “a violation of ” but “not in consonance with” the party line of “strengthening the independent identity of the party”, adopted at its 21st Plenum ( Vishakhapatnam, April 14-18, 2015 ).
In a rare instance of defiance, Sangwan questioned the very intent of the PB to tone down the operational part of the resolution in utter disregard of more than twothird of the CC endorsing the “violation” line. It was alleged to be a ploy to avoid fixing of responsibility and taking disciplinary action for the violation of the party line, against the recalcitrant unit. It was nothing but an abject surrender by the PB, to the state leadership. From the sequence of events prior to the unseemly development, it is evident that the PB acquiesced in the forging of jot with the Congress, despite the fact that the Kerala leaders questioned the propriety of such an understanding, on the ground of its likely adverse impact on the prospect of the party in the Kerala Assembly election, close on the heels of West Bengal.
The PB got carried away by the local groundswell of support for the understanding and the ‘go ahead’, given for the same by the Congress High Command to its state unit. The PB in its political wisdom, might also have thought that it would not be prudent, on its part, to press for its diktat beyond a point, lest it undermined the authority of the state leadership and caused demoralisation in the rank and file just before the election. The current stand that the central leadership has taken to have no truck with the Congress has put the state CPI-M in a quandary. This would mean that the party has to burn the bridge it has been able to build with the state Congress, for a modus vivendi against the ‘tyranny’ of the Trinamul Congress. In such an eventuality, the party would have to plough a lonely political furrow while confronting the worst challenges of the time.
The state leadership is, therefore, still not inclined to hang up its gloves and concede the struggle. It is hopeful of a positive outcome resulting from the process of ‘consultations’ in progress, with the central leadership. A miserable electoral performance of the CPI-M, in contrast to relatively better showing of the Congress (42) in the April-May 2016 Assembly elections confirms acontinuing disconnect of the party with different segments of people. The jot failed to reap an advantage of its near equal vote shares (38%) with that of the TMC (39%). The jot not only failed to make any inroads into the domain of the ruling party, but also suffered serious reverses. In sharp contrast, the TMC secured an unprecedented increase of as high as 5% votes over and above what was obtained in 2014 parliamentary eIlection in the state (44.9% against 39.79%).
The citadel of the mighty CPM is seen crumbling . The message of peace, atonement and human dignity which formed the very core of the Marxists’ twin campaigns of “rectification and reconciliation”, failed to make much of an impact on the psyche of people. In peoples’ eyes, the campaigns lacked both conviction and credibility with no change in geriatric leaderships at different levels. Some of the leaders woefully lacked adequate understanding and appreciation of the mood and temper of the people for they never fought the election. They remained as arm-chair ideologues and stuck in the proverbial time warp. They failed to inspire and encourage young leaders to step in, take charge, and go up the ladder of party hierarchy. People perceived the aging leaderships to be generally, remiss in alertness and agility to deliver an effective response to the demands of fast changing dynamics of globalised world. No wonder that the results of the 2016 elections made it clear that it was going to be a long wait, before people could trust the Marxists once again, with the administration of the state and governance of their destiny. The unhappy memories of 34 years still scare and haunt. Meanwhile, a new development of concern to the CPI-M is the emergence of a new socio-cultural faultline, under TMC rule in West Bengal. It comprises the multitudes from different social strata, in both rural and semi urban areas, bound by the commonality of recent political history, backwardness, lack of proper education and other skills for employment, tolerance, propriety and responsible citizenship. Among them, Mamata Banerjee has carved out a niche as the most charismatic leader with a beacon of hope for their well-being. To them, what matters and appeals is the narrative that is driven by populism and that which addresses their socio economic needs more than repetitive hollow political rhetoric. In playing out the narrative, the TMC has seen to it that proper focus is made on time-bound implementation of projects, schemes, subsidies, freebies (mostly of the GoI) in order to speed up the delivery of goods and services as never before, under personal monitoring and supervision of none other than the party supremo herself. Its impact is seen in the creation of assets visible on the ground in sectors like education, health, road, power, irrigation, agriculture, SMEs etc., with a favourable impact on the quality of life.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is facing its most trying times since its split from the undivided Communist Party of India in 1964.