‘Survival Plenum’

Modi will serve corporates’. That was CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat at the just concluded 3-day state plenum of their Party at Palakkad, Kerala. Karat, however, didn’t elaborate whether Modi was serving the ‘proletariat’ at the moment. Also, he didn’t say a word or two about whether Modi’s rival, Congress Party’s would be Prime Ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi would be less enthusiastic in serving the corporates. What was missing from most of their ‘plenum niceties’, was any serious attempt to explain why a notorious Modi of Gujarat pogrom fame suddenly came into lime- light in the first place. The statements emanated from Palakkad had little to say about communist matters, but plenty to say about how to survive in the electoral race. Modi was projected as a Prime Ministerial candidate by his party—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—only after the leaders of corporate world promoted the idea of Modi as Prime Minister at a ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ propaganda meet, in view of his success and tenacity in wooing Indian big business. Communal tag doesn’t matter to them, their powerful media can turn a villain into a hero overnight.

The all-important Kerala plenum was all about how to solve electoral riddles and make perfect match in the coming parliamentary poll in 2014. Once again they reiterated their oft-repeated stance of maintaining equi-distance from both Congress—the symbol corruption—and communal BJP, while not forgetting to highlight the main danger in BJP’s systematic attempt to polarise voters on communal lines.

In truth it was one way to tell the Congress that they were not averse to make a ‘common minimum programme’ with them again as it was the case in happier UPA-Left days, in the event of a saffron surge.

The Palakkad Plenum of CPM was a kind of stock-taking. In reality the message was a cocktail of adventurism and capitulation. It is one thing to retreat in good order and live to fight another day. It is another to go down to the wire, do a complete flip flop while championing defeatism in a subtle way, of course.

For one thing CPM stalwarts at the plenum admitted in no uncertain terms that factionalism and alcoholism were two main vices threatening the party. Once in the last days of Gorvachev era Soviet Union someone in the Soviet scientific establishment showed with details why vodka was more dangerous than American missiles in destablising Soviet Russia. He feared vodka most, not America’s aggressive stance, in Soviet soldiers’ veins. Communists of all shades no longer follow moral codes—one Palakkad cannot help much in improving the situation. People nowhere in the country, not to speak of Kerala, don’t think official communists will exhibit exemplary standard of values and ethics, to regain their lost credibility before the eyes of the society. They have lost it forever. Faced with serious aberrations like consumption of liquor by a large number of party functionaries the plenum decided to tighten the moral code for its members at all tires of the organisation. Whether it will work in the field is anybody’s guess. After all gone are the days of principle and austerity in communist culture. It is simply futile to search for ‘old days’ because what gets priority all the time in the so-called leftist or communist movement is how to win votes. And money, muscle and alcohol play the tricks, right from the village panchayet to parliament. In today’s India, what is true of the right is equally true for the left. Criminalisation of politics is the order of the day, without which no party can think of defending their existence.

Surprisingly, the organisational report placed at the plenum, dealt mainly with minority, as if there was no other serious problem. Leaders were worried about their poor presence among minority communities, muslims and christians, to be precise. The report noted with a sense of hopelessness that muslims accounted for only 9.56 percent and christians 10.09 percent of the party members numbering more than 4 lakh.

But their political resolution was even more insignificant than the organisational resolution as it lacked the national perspective despite market mayhem across the country. Their priority was how to win over the dissidents in the ruling camp, not basic masses.

The plenum had very little to offer to the toilers. And in the end it was all too familiar cliche they would like to sell. The delegates wanted the party to attract secular democratic forces. They looked realistic enough not to spend energy on the prospects of a third front, though the half-baked ‘equidistance’ formula was told as a passing reference.

The collapse of Soviet Russia transformed a popular word ‘socialism’ into a dirty one. People in this part of the globe identify tyranny with the word communism, thanks to Bengal and Kerala communists.

It’s almost certain that the marxists will have to bite the dust in the 2014 Loksabha elections. So Kerala is the only state where they are trying to revamp their organisation through a plenum, even by clearing the deck for courting obnoxious regional and some break-away outfits that are out and out opportunist and reactionary. In election what counts is number, number of seats, not ideology and principle. If they fail to win a substantial percentage of votes polled in Kerala, their national status will be at stake. And with the national status gone, they will lose whatever little bargaining leverage they still possess in Delhi’s durbar.

Plenum or no plenum, the marxist party continues to wander in political wilderness without bothering about the growing plight of subalterns. But the future of communist parliamentarians is nowhere bright any more. The ‘red’ and their rag-tag left allies in India have not learnt any lessons from the dying sun in Europe. Euro-communism that was once threatening the traditional power structure and political life in Europe is now history. They thrived so long as the Soviet Union was there. Nearer home how maoism in Nepal is losing its position of strength after being trapped by parliamentary sops is very much there all to see. Yet they think one day they could capture the ‘red fort’ in Delhi by eternally waiting in the wings and playing second fiddle to the Congress that has no future beyond the Nehru dynasty.

Vol. 46, No. 23, Dec 15 -21, 2013

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