As CPI(M) Goes into Huddle at Party Congress, Will It Be Open to Course Correct?

At the party's 23rd congress in Kerala, the leadership has chalked out an ambitious agenda, but the moot question is whether it will walk the talk.

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Kochi: At the ongoing five-day party congress (conclave) in Kerala’s Kannur, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership and cadre are in a reflective mood. They are wondering how they can “isolate” and “defeat” the Bharatiya Janata Party by mobilising democratic and secular forces without any truck with the Congress party at the national level. A political resolution to this effect has been approved.

All the top leaders have said that they have “no confusion” whatsoever in that direction. While such pronouncements may energise the party cadre and supporters, the reality is that there is evident confusion in the party on how to take on the BJP and revive its own prospects in the process – at least according to the party’s political organisational report.

The internal report – which was introduced by politburo member Prakash Karat on Saturday, April 9, and which The Wire has seen – admits that the party is not only confused but its tactics fell flat at least in West Bengal and Tripura, where the party finds itself in terminal decline.

Grandiose pronouncements

Speaking on the resolution that aims to defeat the BJP by mobilising secular and democratic forces, politburo member Brinda Karat said, “Our political line is very clear: We are resolved to fight the BJP and the RSS, with the thrust being the fight against the neo-liberal policies and the Hindutva regime. We have no confusion on that.”

Continuing further, she said, “For any patriotic citizen of India, the prime (political) task must be to isolate and defeat the toxic force which wants to destroy the social fabric of our country. For that, we have given a programme and all those who are willing to come with us, whether they belong to a political party, social movement, public intellectuals, or non-governmental organisations, we extend our cooperation who want to fight this grave danger to India.”

CPI (M) party general secretary Sitaram Yechury with politburo member Brinda Karat. Photo: Facebook.

Echoing Karat’s views, party general secretary Sitaram Yechury also called on the Congress party and regional parties to “set their houses in order” to “rise to the occasion to discharge patriotic duty”.

“The party congress would deliberate on how we proceed in this direction. The CPI (M) appeals to all secular and democratic forces to come together in order to isolate and defeat BJP. All political parties that proclaim secularism must rise to the occasion to discharge this patriotic duty.

The Congress party, along with other regional parties, must set their houses in order and decide where they stand to safeguard the secular, democratic character of the Indian Republic,” said Yechury, cutting a wide berth from the Congress which is on a warpath with the CPI (M)-led state government in Kerala.


Though the party leadership makes it a point to drive home the point that there is no confusion in terms of its political strategy, the party’s political organisational report is critical of the confusion that has pervaded the party, at least in its former bastions of West Bengal and Tripura, where its strategies have not yielded any success.

According to the review of the central committee, the report states, “The state committee (of West Bengal) had assessed the relationship between the TMC and the BJP as a collusion between the two to create a bipolarity in the state. The consequent growing confrontation between the BJP and the ruling party was underestimated.

This resulted in diluting the sharpness of the anti-BJP campaign and often equating BJP and TMC in practice despite the statements and positions by the party leading committees pointing out the BJP as a principal target. As a result, the position of our party as an uncompromising defender of the secular democracy opposing the BJP suffered.”

This realistic and to-the-point reflection by the central leadership of the party if sustained after the party congress could well prove one of the sharpest instances of self-criticism by the party in recent times.

“It had been decided by the central committee that the party can have electoral adjustments with other secular parties to maximise the pooling of anti- BJP, anti-TMC votes. But during the course of the campaign, the seat adjustments with the Congress and Indian Secular Front were projected under the name Sanjukta Morcha, or a united front calling for an alternative government. This was wrong and not in consonance with the central committee understanding,” the report observes.

It appears that nothing has changed between the current (party’s 23rd congress) and the 22nd party congress held four years back.

The last party congress had resolved, as its political line, that the party’s main task would be to defeat the BJP and its allies by rallying all the secular and democratic forces, without any political alliance with the Congress party.

Now, after four years, following a humiliating defeat for the party in the 2019 Loksabha elections, the very political discussion is back on the table.

In its conclusion, the latest organisational report admits that the party is going through the “most challenging phase” since its formation in 1964.

“Two out of three strong bases of the party – West Bengal and Tripura – are under severe attack, and there has been an erosion in our mass base and influence. There is a general decline in the strength of the party all over the country with the exception of Kerala,” the report notes.

While the report speaks of “confusion” in the party and how to tackle it, some leaders lamented that it has only furthered existing confusion.

“The situation in West Bengal is a bit tricky. There is a section in the leadership which is for the continuation of alliance with the Congress, but the party, in general, feels that it won’t do any good. On the other hand, the TMC is not an option for the party even to talk with, let alone stitch up an understanding. So, we will have to tread carefully and this confusion is part of it,” said a ‘comrade’ from one of the north Indian states.

With the political resolution adopted in the congress once again stressing on combating Hindutva communalism, the question remains if the leadership walks the talk by adopting workable strategies in the days to come, to heed to its own critical internal reports.