CPI(M) FAILS TO GROW: CC meet poses question, where is party? Despite big talks, it drew blank in recent polls

ZERO SUM … Party of the poor or a ‘fashion show’ of the educated white-collar elitists?

NEW DELHI: The CPI(M) central committee, at its recent meet here, has expressed desperation over the poor show of the party and its alliances in the recently held assembly polls in five states. Daggers were drawn at general secretary Sitaram Yechury by his sizeable number of detractors, who raised the question, “Where has the party grown when another Lok Sabha poll is close at hand?”

The pitiable performance of the party in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana came in for special mention. It was noted that despite the formation of a Loktantrik Morcha in alliance with five other parties in Rajasthan, the party that contested 28 seats polled 1.2 per cent of the votes, against the 2013 assembly poll tally of 0.9 per cent votes, the CC report noted. The party had no alliance with the Congress in the state.

In Telangana, the party formed a Bahujan front and contested 107 out of the 119 seats, and drew a total blank. The CPI(M) itself fielded candidates in 26 seats and polled no more than 0.4 per cent votes. It had no alliance with the Congress-TDP front. Such a low percentage for the party in a region where it was strong for decades has baffled the central leadership.

Yechury, a strong votary of ties with the Congress, puts the blame on the Prakash Karat side for the party’s failure for a tie-up with the grand old party, leading to the present disaster. His rivals ask, what has the party done under his stewardship to improve its strength on its own, rather than trying to turn the party into a B team for the Congress. The two communist parties are virtually zero in both the Telugu states, as also across the Hindi belt, but for marginal gains here or there.

The CC report showed a sense of realism about the vote shares of the Congress and the BJP in the polls to five states. The BJP had not lost much votes this time, though it lost power in the three Hindi-belt states. In Rajasthan, Congress got 39.3 per cent of the polled votes and formed government, while the BJP that lost power managed to poll 38.8 per cent votes. The difference was a mere 0.5 per cent votes.

In Madhya Pradesh, the CC noted, the Congress polled 40.9 per cent votes to win power while the BJP got more – 41.1 per cent and yet lost power. This meant that the “threat from the RSS cannot be wished away,” the CC report noted.

Allegations are that Sitaram Yechury has no grasp of organisational matters and does all his push for the party through the English media, and not at the ground level. It wins him publicity and not helping the party, his rivals say. 

Yechury’s old attempts at under-cutting the now Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, and his open backing to Pinarayi-baiter VS Achuthanandan in the Kerala party, have proven to be another of his undoings. Vijayan and the Kerala party have no love lost for Yechury, and they are said to be on the side of the powerful Prakash Karat bloc in the CC.

Yechury, now 66, forced his way into the general secretary post at the party congress in Visakhapatnam in April, 2015 despite seniors’ plea to allow another polit buro member S Ramachandran Pillai hold the post for some time. Yechury forced a voting on this, against the long-held tradition of consensus. He thus got re-elected to the post in the Hyderabad Congress in April, 2018. The Congress leadership in Delhi allegedly worked from behind to rally support for Yechury from CPI(M) delegates drawn from some states where the party remained weak, with funny and rootless leaders, and yet held a say at the CC, to turn the tide in Yechury’s favour.

In the capital, Yechury is known more as a Congress camp follower and able supporter of the Nehru family in times of need while Karat takes an anti-Congress, anti-BJP line. While Karat is a hardliner and strong in ideological interpretations, Yechury is more media-savvy and has a way with the English media. Yechury’s was a strong presence in the Rajya Sabha until his term ended a couple of years ago. Under the party constitution, general secretary will have to devote full time for organisational work. –IHN-NN

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