The CPI(M) central committee has just released its draft political resolution (DPR) for discussion and adoption at the 23rd congress of the party scheduled in Kerala in April this year. The last party congress was held in 2018 and this DPR assesses the course of developments in the last four years both nationally and globally to enable the party delegates to arrive at the final political resolution which will guide the party leadership in framing strategy and tactics for the next few years till the 24th party congress.
Right now, the state assembly elections to the largest state in India Uttar Pradesh is on. Manipur is going to polls later this month. Polling has been completed in three states, Goa, Uttarakhand and Punjab. The results will be out on March 10. The Congress is the main party challenging the BJP in four out of five states going to polls in this round. The Samajwadi Party is the main challenger in Uttar Pradesh.
The party draft has correctly focused on fighting BJP as the main enemy both at political and electoral level and reiterated the last party congress observation that BJP and the Congress can not be equated at the same level. The main task is to isolate and defeat the BJP. So the party will cooperate with secular opposition parties in parliament on agreed issues. Outside parliament, the party will work for the broadest mobilisation of all secular forces against the communal agenda of the BJP.
Fair enough. Now who are these secular forces with whom the CPI(M) will work on agreed issues. Also there is a rider. The success of the fight against Hindutva-corporate regime of BJP requires the simultaneous struggle against the Hindutva communal forces and the struggle against the neo liberal policies. The draft then mentions the CPI(M) and the Left will independently and unitedly, fight with other democratic forces, on an issue to issue basis, the assaults on neo liberalism, authoritarianism, onslaughts against democracy, democratic rights and suppression of dissent by draconian laws. In sum BJP has to be removed from power at the centre to ensure that these developments are averted, but that has not been said in clear terms despite all jargons.
CPI(M) and the CPI have got a total of five seats in Lok Sabha, CPI(M) three and the CPI two. Out of these five, four are from Tamil Nadu where the victory was possible because of the alliance led by the DMK which includes Congress. That way, only one seat was won by the CPI(M) on the basis of its own strength. But in 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the prospects may be better for the Left. In fact, there is a possibility of getting many more seats from Kerala in next Lok Sabha poll. But the fact is the 2019 figure of five was the lowest in the history of the united Communist party since the first Lok Sabha elections in 1952. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Left got 61 seats, out of which the CPI(M) got alone 44 and this was mainly due to elected MPs from West Bengal. With Bengal gone, only Kerala remains right now the only state from which the Left can expect to get Lok Sabha seats on its own strength.
Presently, the Congress is the largest party in the country challenging BJP which can be taken as secular and democratic as per CPI(M) draft resolution on characterisation of allies. But about Congress the draft quotes only the political resolution of the 22nd congress that stated that with the BJP in power and given its basic link to the RSS, it is the main threat. So both the BJP and the Congress cannot be treated as equal dangers. Then suddenly the draft says ‘however, there cannot be any political alliance with the Congress party’.
This is totally confusing. There are electoral alliances with the Congress right in the current state elections in Manipur. In Punjab, the CPI and the CPI(M) had talks with the Congress for alliance but that did not take off. In West Bengal, CPI(M) had alliances with the Congress a number of times against the Trinamool. If the party can have electoral alliance with the Congress what prevents it from having a programme based political alliance to fight the BJP.
The CPI(M) and the Left together have very little strength in dictating the content of the programme to its allies. The best course in this situation is to find a common ground for alliance of the anti-BJP forces including the regional parties against the BJP and work for its removal from power .The BJP is thriving on the basis of Hindutva-chrony capitalism axis and that has to be fought and defeated unitedly by the non-BJP forces. The simultaneous fight against neo liberalism can be the left agenda but there is no need for insisting on it as a must. There are varied opinions amongst the regional parties and the Congress on the economic policies. Both the 1996 CMP of United Front and the 2004 programme remain as models which can be finetuned for formulating a common programme by the non-BJP parties to challenge the saffrons in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The portion on the characterisation of the Congress party should be elaborated in the final political resolution in more clear terms in the 23rd congress. In the last four years, there has been changes in Congress attitude towards the chrony capitalists. Rahul Gandhi has mentioned that a number of times. The draft has given just three small paras on the` Congress and does not offer any fresh interpretation in assessing the Congress. This is a gap in the draft and this should be taken care of at the April congress. It is easier to talk that the Congress’ is unable to effectively mount an ideological challenge to Hindutva forces and often adopts a compromising approach’. But it has been in the nature of the functioning of the GOP since independence.
It is to be remembered by the CPI(M) leadership that the draft itself has characterised the Congress party representing the interests of the Indian ruling classes- bourgeoisie and landlords led by the big bourgeoisie.. If that is so, how can CPI(M) leadership expect that this section will be fighting Hindutva without flip flops and compromises. Congress is a national party with its own programme. It can not be expected to act in the way the Left wants. The Grand Old Party is still the largest political party in the country fighting the BJP. It has to be an important part of any anti-BJP front and that itself serves the broader interest of the Left.
But more stunning is the draft inadequacy in characterising Trinamool Congress. Nearly eleven years have passed since Mamata Banerjee swept away the CPI(M) and took over West Bengal in 2011. Since then the CPI(M) and Left’s downturn is continuing. There has been no thorough appraisal about the character of Trinamool in the draft. Today, the CPI(M) has little bargaining power in national politics because of the success of Mamata in Bengal which was its strongest bastion for 34 years.. This needed detailed explanation, but sadly that is lacking. Only two lines are mentioned in the portion on regional parties. The draft says ‘The TMC, having been part of the BJP led NDA, is today ranged against the BJP. It -continues with its anti-CPI(M), anti Left offensive and is today aspiring to be the leader of the anti-BJP forces at the national level’
What is the position of the CPI(M) on this stand of TMC aspiring to be the leader of the anti-BJP forces? What will be the relationship of the CPI(M) vis a vis TMC and Mamata at the national level in forging a front against the BJP. Talks are on among the regional chief ministers for fighting BJP on the issues of federalism and authoritarianism. Mamata is also a party to that. The CPI(M) has to make a clear stand on this at the party congress in April. The central leadership now knows that Mamata has hijacked all the earlier pro people programmes of the Left Front regime and added a few more. Her domination in Bengal politics is now overwhelming and the state CPI(M) leadership has to be ready for a long haul in Bengal. The CPI(M) is fighting the Congress in Kerala at the state level but cooperating with the GOP at the national level to fight the BJP, The same policy can be taken by the Left regarding Trinamool Congress also as long as TMC is consistent in its position against the BJP.
The 23rd party congress of the CPI(M) is being held less than a month after the results of the five state assemblies elections are declared. There will be new inputs about the respective strengths of the BJP, Congress and the regional parties. The delegates will have to scan the significance of that and frame a practical tactical line to be followed in the coming two years preceding the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.Right now, the task is to unite as many non-BJP parties as possible including both the Congress and Trinamool to challenge the BJP and remove Narendra Modi from power. That has to be main focus for CPI(M) also at its coming party congress and nothing else. This is the time for the combined Left to put Dimitrov’s United Front tactics into action. (IPA Service)