By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: All stops must be pulled out to ensure that the anti-BJP vote is not divided. Will the decision made at the 23rd Party Congress of the CPI(M) not to have a national-level alliance with the Congress achieve that goal? The five session ended on April 10 with a massive rally and signalling the dominance of the Kerala state under the leadership of P Vijayan in the policy making of the CPI(M) two years before the Lok Sabha polls in 2024.
Opinion is sharply divided on the issue. Of alliance with the Congress Party. There is a powerful stream of thought forcefully articulated and advocated by the Kerala unit of the CPI(M), which is strongly opposed to any tie-up with the Congress at the national level. Their argument is simple and straight: The Congress is a pale shadow of its former self, and is simply in no position to lead a front against the belligerent BJP at the national level. Also, the Congress’s commitment to combat communalism is suspect, given its recent track record.
A large number of Congress leaders have made a beeline for the BJP at the first available opportunity. That shows the party is not at all wedded to the concept of strengthening the secular forces in the fight against communal forces. It is this political line advocated by the Kerala CPI(M) led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which has triumphed at the Party Congress. Majority of the delegates who spoke on the political resolution adopted at the Congress opposed any alliance with the Congress and made a strong pitch for tie-ups and understanding with left and secular forces depending upon the political character of individual states.
On the other hand, delegates from Bengal were for an understanding with the Congress. This was in line with the call made at the inauguration of the Party Congress by general secretary SitaramYechury for a broad secular alliance against the BJP Yechury went to the extent of giving an open call to the Congress to make it clear its stance on secularism. The call gave an impression that the CPI(M) leadership wanted the Congress in the alliance. Since the Kerala unit fiercely opposed an alliance with the Congress, the Yechury line was rejected.
The contention of the protagonists of an alliance with the Congress was that, although the Congress has become extremely weak, it is the only party, besides the BJP, which boasts a pan-Indian presence. Despite the slew of electoral setbacks it has suffered, the party still commands a vote share of over 20 per cent. This being the undeniable ground reality, it would not be wise at all to exclude the Congress from a broad front against the BJP. Moreover, regional parties like the Shiv Sena, DMK and the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) firmly advocate the inclusion of the Congress in the front against BJP.
In this connection, the growing perception is that the best thing under the circumstances will be replication of a Tamil Nadu-type model at the national level. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK heads an alliance which includes the Congress, the Left parties and the Muslim League. The participation of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in the seminar organized in connection with the Party Congress in Kannur has set the stage for the formation of such an alliance to counter the BJP. TN CM M K Stalin made out a strong case for a broad alliance against the BJP-led Government at the Centre to save the concept of India. The coming together of Kerala CM and the Tamil Nadu CM is being construed as a solid and positive beginning towards realization of this goal cherished by the Opposition parties.
But the task is easier said than done. There are many hurdles on the way. These have to be overcome. Mere parrot-like reiteration of the need for a formidable anti-BJP alliance would simply not do. The Opposition parties must overcome their biases and prejudices. The opposition leaders should also shed their king-size egos in the process.
The first and foremost task in this regard is to ensure that there is a straight fight against the BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha elections. Past electoral history is littered with instances wherein the opposition lost the battle because it failed to field a single candidate against the BJP. Triangular contests, needless to say, benefit the BJP, as has been the case hitherto. That situation must be averted at all costs. Multi-party contests, the opposition camp must realize, are a recipe for electoral disaster and a boon to the BJP. The mere talk of a move to have a single candidate against the BJP will create doubts and apprehensions in the camp of the Hindutva forces. The opposition must bend all their energies to ensure a straight fight with the BJP, especially in big states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bengal.
An essential pre-requisite for the realization of this objective is strengthening of the organization of left parties like the CPI(M) and the CPI. The organisational report prepared at the Congress candidly admits the weaknesses of the left parties and lay accent on the need to take expeditious corrective action. The party has taken a welcome step by deciding to induct fresh blood and youth into positions of power. The party organization must be a judicious blend of youth and experience. Senior leaders over 75 who make for young leaders must not , however, be left high and dry. Their experience must be utilized to firm up the party’s base and ensure its expansion to new areas. Veteran leader S Ramachandran Pillai, who has exited the Politburo, has said the right thing by affirming that he would hereafter devote full time in educating both the party cadres and the public at large on the need for strengthening left and secular forces. Other leaders similarly circumstanced should emulate his example.
And last but the least, the CPI(M) must shed its virulent antipathy to the Congress. Except in Kerala, where the Congress is its main rival, the party must join hands, albeit in a broader alliance, with that party in the supreme task of stemming the BJP tide. Failure to do so would inflict incalculable harm to the country’s interests and defeat the very purpose of forming a broad front against the BJP. The Opposition front must also agree on a minimum common programme which would ensure its cohesion, credibility and long-term stability. They must not fail the nation. (IPA Service)