By Prakash Karat
The 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) is being held at Kannur in Kerala from April 6-10. The Party Congress will set out the political direction of the Party for the next three years.
The draft Political Resolution which was released more than two months ago by the Central Committee has been discussed at all levels of the Party. It will be finally taken up at the Congress for adoption after discussion by the delegates. It is this exercise of inner-Party democracy in shaping the political-tactical line of the Party which is unique to the CPI(M).
Since the last Party Congress held in 2018, the right-wing has consolidated its position in the country as was seen in the return of the Modi government with a bigger majority in the Lok Sabha election in May 2019. Consequently, the country has witnessed the heightened drive to implement the Hindutva agenda and this has been accompanied by a pro-corporate, neo-liberal thrust in economic policies which has resulted in the enormous growth of profits and assets of a handful of big capitalists who are favoured by the regime.
The conditions of the people in terms of unemployment, falling incomes, price-rise and effects of the agrarian crisis have worsened, especially after the Covid pandemic.
This has been a period of big united struggles by different sections of the working people who have come out against the anti-people policies of the Modi government and the burdens heaped on them. The prime example of this resistance was the historic year-long kisan movement against the three farm laws which forced the government to repeal them.
The working class has also been conducting united struggles against the anti-worker labour codes, privatisation and denial of adequate minimum wages. There have been four general strikes in the period 2018 to 2022, the latest being on March 28-29. These strikes have seen the participation of crores of workers and employees in all sectors.
There have been other movements and struggles to defend democracy, secularism and constitutional principles, chief among them was the anti-CAA movement which saw widespread mass protests all over the country.
The CPI(M) and the Left forces have played an important role in the development and the intensification of these struggles and movements.
The CPI(M) has always maintained that the fight against the BJP-RSS regime must involve a combination of the struggle against the neo-liberal policies and the political-ideological struggle against the Hindutva forces. It must be recognised that the Hindutva brand of nationalism with its underlying anti-Muslim theme has influenced substantial sections of the people, particularly in the northern and the western parts of the country. The Hindutva-corporate regime cannot be effectively challenged unless the political-ideological counter to Hindutva is constructed and effectively taken to the people.
At a time when the Congress party and most of the other secular opposition parties are failing to take up this battle against Hindutva, it becomes the responsibility of the CPI(M) and the Left to evolve such a platform and rally all the secular democratic forces around it.
The Party Congress will be concentrating on a central theme – how to develop the independent strength of the CPI(M) politically and organisationally. This focus stems from the fact that the Party has suffered reverses and decline in its influences, especially after the attacks on its two strong bases of West Bengal and Tripura by the anti-Communist forces – the TMC in Bengal and the BJP in Tripura. Scores of Party cadres and supporters have been killed in the two states in the past four years and thousands have faced various forms of attacks. Yet, the cadres and activists of the Party braved the repression and have been working to regroup, to connect to the people and to launch struggles and movements of the working people.
The Party Congress will review the organisational work and the implementation of the tasks that were set out at the time of the last Congress. For two years, the Covid pandemic and lockdowns have affected normal life and caused a lot of miseries for poor people. The Party continued to be among the people in this difficult period and did substantial relief work to help migrant workers and the urban and rural poor. The work involved setting up Covid isolation centres and provision of rations, food kits, oxygen cylinders, masks and sanitisers.
In the sphere of Party organisation, efforts have been made to revitalise the Party committees by bringing in younger cadres, increasing representation of women and improving the class and social composition.
The Party Congress being held in Kerala at this juncture has a special significance. Kannur is a bastion of the Communist movement. The Party has deep roots among the people and the Party membership in the district is over 61,600. This is the highest Party membership amongst all the districts in the country. There is a Left Democratic Front government in Kerala which has been returned to office for a second term with a bigger majority in the April 2021 assembly election. The policies and performance of the LDF government got a big endorsement from the people. These policies in the economic, social and political spheres are part of the alternative to the policies pursued by the BJP government at the centre.
It will be natural, therefore, for the Party Congress being held in Kerala, to take into account the LDF government’s policies and performance while projecting the national alternative policies of the Left and democratic forces.
The Kannur Congress will demonstrate that the CPI(M) and the Left are the consistent fighters against the right-wing, neo-liberal Hindutva forces. The Congress will show the way forward for all the secular and democratic forces in the country to unitedly struggle for democracy, secularism, federalism and the Left and Democratic alternative. (IPA Service)