The green signal by the CPM central leadership for an understanding with the Congress in West Bengal exposes once again the party’s dialectical politics of hunting with the hound and running with the hare
With only a couple of months left for the Assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala, how the CPM explains to their ranks, their latest pro-Congress political line is being eagerly watched. The green signal by CPM central leadership for an understanding with Congress in West Bengal exposes once again the party’s dialectical politics of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. While the comrades in West Bengal would have heave a sigh of relief, it could be quite embarrassing for the Kerala Marxists to explain. The CPM leadership is constrained to forget West Bengal which was their matter of political pride for almost three decades and a half having now turned into a sheer shame.
|In 1997, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, in a reply to an Assembly question, stated that between 1977-1996, 28,000 political murders were committed. This bland statement does not convey the enormity of the crime committed by the CPI-M. This data shows that an average 125.7 murders were committed in a month and the daily rate of murder was four. That is to say that one political murder took place every six hours for the entire period of 19 years.|
The new political line clearly contradicts the one adopted by the 21st congress of CPM. The recent party plenum at Visakhapatnam too had ruled out any overt or covert alliance or understanding with Congress. Ever since the split in the undivided Communist party, CPM had been attacking CPI for the latter’s pro-Congress political line. The very split was also over the question of the party’s attitude towards Congress. Many stalwarts of the party had been thrown out in the past by the CPM for being soft towards Congress. While in West Bengal Somnath Chatterjee was shown the door by the party, in Kerala K R Gouri and M V Raghavan were thrown out. The CPM State leadership had been spitting venom on RSP which allied with Congress in Kerala during the Lok Sabha elections. RSP leader and former minister NK Premachandran was dubbed by the then CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan as paramanaari meaning the most stinking. The grand old comrade Somnath Chatterjee was taken to task when he was Lok Sabha Speaker for not voting against the Congress in the House. KR Gouri and MV Raghavan who played pivotal role in building up CPM were branded as ‘class enemies’ and they both had to launch their own separate parties for political survival. Forgetting the past, that too the recent past may not be that easy, whatever be the political compulsions for the contradictory postures being pursued by the party in the two ‘Red states’ of the past. The sudden somersault becomes all the more odd as it comes from a party which attributes its every move to ideological and international reasons.
There is no denying that in West Bengal, it is the final struggle by CPM for the party’s physical survival. The party fears that even the remaining comrades may switch over to BJP or Trinamool Congress in the days to come. Ironically CPM in West Bengal now reaps what it sowed while in power. It was CPM that initiated the politics of violence in all its fury in West Bengal while in power. Now the ruling Trinamool Congress vigorously follows it. The political base of CPM is too fragile to go it alone in the forthcoming polls The party leadership fears that it will be simply wiped out of West Bengal.It is therefore that the bitter pill of allying with Congress is prescribed. But whether it will help at the hustings is something which not only political pundits but also the party is not certain. It is nothing but a calculated political risk. Even if it may help CPM to win a few seats in the State, the flirting with the Congress in West Bengal, it is bound to tell upon the prospects in Kerala. This is why CPM central leadership is neither clear not categorical about relations with Congress. The ambivalence is very evident in the words of Prakash Karat who says “there are situations in politics when one could say neither yes nor no and sometimes there could be both at the same time”.
What comes to fore, thanks to the West Bengal question is that faction haunts not only State units of CPM, but also central leadership. The cold war between Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat is no more a secret now. While Yechury was all for an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal, Karat waged an all out war against any alliance or understanding. CPM has always been divided on the question of the party’s approach to Congress. One faction wanted Jyoti Basu to be made prime minister with Congress support while the rival faction opposed and defeated the move. Jyoti Basu being denied the chance to be at the helm in New Delhi was later dubbed as ‘a historic blunder’ by the pro-Congress faction. There was also division within the party while resolving to withdraw support to UPA government at the centre in 2008. Again there was opposition from within the party to the ouster of Somnath Chatterjee. Even in West Bengal, the party is not united in regard to allying with Congress. A section lead by Biman Bose and Madan Ghosh are opposed to any truck with Congress while Buddhadeb Bhattacharya openly lobbies for an alliance.
Significantly the Yechury-Karat row which is now open has further fuelled the raging faction fued in Kerala CPM. The rival factions led by VS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan respectively have crossed swords on the West Bengal line. Achuthanandan was quick enough to come out in the open in staunch support of his party entering into an electoral understanding with Congress in West Bengal. On the day when the central committee met in New Delhi to decide on the issue, he had a closed door meeting with Yechury. Besides, Achuthnanandan also submited to the central committee, a note in favour of an understanding between CPM-Congress in West Bengal. His stance was quite glaring and contradictory to the idealist and uncompromising line he has been advocating so far in his home State, Kerala. The reason is not far to seek. While Karat has been promoting and protecting Pinarayi, Yechury had always come to Achuthanandan’s rescue. It is therefore simply a case of the enemy’s enemy turning one’s friend. Hence the two rival factions are once again in a bid to settle scores on the eve of Assembly elections, even as both find the West Bengal line embarrassing to explain. Pitiable is the plight of Congress leaders too. But BJP which is out to end the bipolar politics in Kerala will definitely have the last laugh.
Hari S Kartha (The writer is Senior Executive
Editor, Amrita TV)