From P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Change is the only constant in life. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has realized this albeit a bit late in the day. It is a welcome realization of this basic fact of life that has induced the CPI(M) to evolve an Indian model of socialism taking into account the ‘concrete realities’ of the Indian situation.
This was the most significant decision the CPI(M) took at the recently-concluded 20th party congress held in Kozhikode, Kerala.
The historic decision, which represents a paradigm shift in the party’s political strategy, was an essential pre-requisite for the successful implementation of its move to build a left and democratic front as an alternative to the UPA and the NDA. It would go a long way in removing the public perception that the CPI(M) looks to China for inspiration, and enable it to gain greater acceptance among the people of India. All that the party needs to do is to apply Marxism to suit the Indian context. In other words to Indianise the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The debate at the party congress on the ideological line pitilessly exposed the weaknesses of the Chinese model. Majority of the delegates were of the view that the Chinese model deviated greatly from the socialist line. The Chinese model of economic growth, alarming rise of new capitalists and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots in that country would, in no way, suit the Indian ethos and conditions, they pointed out.
One only wishes the party had taken a leaf from the book of its long-standing ally, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which has, right from its inception in 1940, taken the ideological line that the creation of an Indian model of socialism that suits the realities and conditions in the country was a historic necessity. The RSP had also taken the stand that neither the Soviet nor the Chinese models was suitable for India. It has taken decades for the CPI(M) to admit that the need of the hour is an Indian model of socialism, imbibing the good elements of the Chinese and other models. If the CPI(M) had accepted this line much earlier, the party would have registered faster growth, Better late than never!
However, the decision to go in for electoral tie-ups with the regional parties, does not inspire much enthusiasm. Many of the delegates who participated in the debate were, understandably, skeptical of the thinking along these lines. True, electoral politics is a crucial component of a parliamentary democracy. And a total boycott of electoral politics is not desirable either.
Be that as it may, it needs to be said that undue accent on electoral politics must not lead to the neglect of the primary task of building and strengthening the party. The CPI(M)’s history is replete with instances of how electoral politics deflected the party from firming it up and, ipso facto, weakened it. The party’s decline in southern states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu can be attributed to this factor. In other words, riding piggyback on regional parties simply won’t do. The party has no option but to plough a lonely furrow until it has acquired adequate strength to be considered a force to reckon with in Indian politics.
Realisation must, therefore, dawn on the CPI(M) that there is no alternative to building and strengthening the party. No doubt, it is a long haul. But that is the only way in which the party can make itself relevant and a potent force that cannot be ignored in the Indian situation. Therefore, the party needs to come up with a roadmap for strengthening the party. The resolution adopted by the 20th party congress in this regard is a bare bone which has to be fleshed out fast.
Wherever the party has buckled down to the task of building the party, it has succeeded, albeit in a limited way, in making headway. The progress the party has made in states like Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana illustrate this point. That experiment should be extended to the Hindi heartland so that the party acquires a pan-Indian presence in the long term. And the party has rightly singled out Uttar Pradesh and other big states for special attention and focus. It is of paramount importance that the CPI(M) comes up, to start with a 10-year blueprint for building the party. If, in the process, its love for electoral politics suffers, and entails a boycott of polls, so be it.
Another step the CPI(M) needs to take immediately is to give up the politics of violence. Ironically, the main reason why the party has suffered a decline even in its strongholds like Kannur in Kerala is the unfortunate violence that accompanies its agitations and mass struggles at times. That violence has alienated substantial sections of the people from the party is an undeniable fact evident from the poor performance of the party in the last assembly elections. There are reports that the CPI(M) leadership in Kerala is contemplating embracing Gandhian tactics like satyagraha in pursuance of their objectives and while taking up agitations on issues affecting the poor. It is a step in the right direction, which will pay the party rich dividends in future.
By signaling its intent to head a left and democratic alternative to pull the country from the mire of misery into which the wrong and anti-people policies of both the UPA and NDA governments have pushed it, the CPI(M) has taken up an awesome task. A big responsibility devolves on the party and its leftist allies to accomplish this task. Failure to do so would be nothing short of a Himalayan tragedy not only for the Indian polity but also for its people. (IPA Service)