Monday, March 9, 2009

CPM Dissidents Refuse to Capitulate: A Cultural Revolution in Our Own Times

THE CENTRAL committee of the CPM, which came out with its assessment of the left prospects in the 15th Lok Sabha elections due in a few weeks, admits that this time it would be a very tough fight.

The statement, made public by general secretary Prakash Karat in his press conference yesterday, was based on the two-day discussions and the reports presented by state units, including West Bengal’s party chief Biman Bose and Kerala’s state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, among others.

But Prakash Karat said the internal divisions in his party or personal tussles among its leaders would not be a worry; he saw larger political developments like the possible Congress-Trinamool alliance in West Bengal as the reason why the left could face difficulties this time.

There is no doubt that the left is facing acute political challenges in all its strongholds this time. It is also a fact that the left, mainly the CPM, is facing serious ideological and organizational challenges also, though Karat seems to play them down.

In Kerala, what could prove to be the most serious threat is the recent divisions in the party and the mass erosion from its ranks with substantial numbers of supporters and cadres leaving the party. Yesterday, as Karat was addressing the Delhi press meet, news came that M R Murali, the CPM dissident in Shroanur, could be a candidate in Palakkad. It could mean the defeat of the CPM candidate there as we have witnessed in Shoranur municipality a few weeks ago.

And what about Vatakara, another sure seat for the CPM in north Kerala?

Last Sunday I was in Vatakara, a constituency that has always been with the CPM or left. This time too, it is most likely to remain with CPM. I was there for a seminar organized by the Indian Union Muslim League, and the mood I saw there was of confidence, because for the first time they were sensing blood. Not that they would win, but they will put up a tough fight.

I met T P Chandrasekharan, who is now the leader of the rebel CPM in Onchiyam. He was also there, and we had a long talk. (A very personal chat because he was my close friend and comrade from 77 to 83 in SFI). It gave me the impression that this division in the party was too deep and it has many undercurrents. The most important thing is that the CPM leadership, both local and state, is now totally out of touch with the cadre down below.

I asked what they would do in the next polls? He said we would not help CPM win, but would not go with UDF either.

It could mean they would decide to put up their own candidate, to show their strength or perhaps lack of it among the people.
It seems if they stood alone and put up a candidate, they will garner anything between 50,000 and 75,000 votes. Still CPM can win provided the new voters would stay with them.

But that would mean the base of CPM being challenged so thoroughly and openly. Will they be in a position to withstand this people's revolt, this revolt of those people who spilled blood for them, the people who gave their life for the party?

For the first time, we are witnessing something similar to Cultural Revolution in China in our midst. The people are now trying to put up barricades in the road to the headquarters, they are besieging the headquarters which has turned hostile on them.

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