Sunday, Feb 25, 2018 | Last Update : 05:07 AM IST
It’s only in Kerala that Leftists have been able to keep their head above water, where the principal challenger is still the Congress, not the BJP.
India’s Left in general, and particularly the CPI(M), which has experience of running governments in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, has never really known whether it is fish or fowl or plain red herring. This is an important reason why the Communists, who formed the largest Opposition bloc in Parliament after the first general election, today find themselves hugging the margins of Indian politics.
The changing texture of politics across the country would appear to have passed them by. In West Bengal, they have been relegated to the third spot by the BJP. In Tripura, their highly respected chief minister Manik Sarkar appears to be under inordinate pressure from the saffron party. It’s only in Kerala that Leftists have been able to keep their head above water, where the principal challenger is still the Congress, not the BJP.
This last fact, and that the CPI(M)’s clash for supremacy in West Bengal and Tripura until recently was with the Congress, has traditionally clouded the Marxists’ vision on the all-India plane. “Anti-Congressism” is in the vein of the Indian Communist movement, and it is of special virulence in case of the CPI(M) variant of the movement, although the Congress Party has long ceased to be hegemonic. This may be among the key reasons why the party has nearly folded up in Alimuddin Street, its once much-vaunted state headquarters in Kolkata.
But this hasn’t dawned on those who call the shots. The draft political resolution of the CPI(M), to be presented at the party’s triennial congress in Hyderabad in April, nods to today’s reality by declaring the BJP as “enemy number one”. At the same time, however, it calls the Congress a “bourgeois-landlord” party (the formulation is as old as the hills and hasn’t changed although India has changed in basic ways) that is “incapable of fighting communal forces” although it calls itself a secular party.
The CPI(M) bosses appear supremely silly and self-destructively arrogant when they proclaim in the draft that “the main task is to defeat the BJP”, although this magic is to be performed “without having an alliance or electoral understanding with the Congress”, as reported by this newspaper. The CPI(M) proposes “to rally all the secular and democratic forces”. It assumes such elements are ready to march under its banner.
It is highly doubtful that the CPI(M)’s dubious political gymnastics will affect “Opposition unity” as that party is in today’s configuration practically inconsequential. Opposition unity will, really, turn on other, and larger, issues. But the CPI(M)’s rank opportunism is evident as it speaks of “appropriate electoral tactics to maximise the pooling of anti-BJP votes”.
This is the narrow window to revel in the shadow of the Congress wherever necessary. The Congress shouldn’t mind if its mission is to take like-minded parties along.