Parliment-and-street approach for revival
For the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the election of Sitaram Yechury as the fifth General Secretary, has given way to a new order. Yechury has taken over at a time, when the party is struggling for survival. The CPI(M) has not only lost national status but is also gasping for regional space.
The first challenge before Yechury is to restore the party’s lost glory and make it relevant. During the past one year, attempts have been made, to raise his voice in the Rajya Sabha. The CPI(M), in order to succeed, has to do away with its dogmatism and has adopt pragmatic political changes.
The second challenge is to unite the party that is full of factionalism. This is more so in Kerala, where the two groups, led by former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and his rival, Pinarayi Vijayan, have been at logger heads for years. As the new Party Chief, Yechury has an onerous task to bring the two warring factions together and forge unity. Achuthanandan has not been included in the politburo while Vijayan has found a new place. Does Yechury have a plan to unite the two groups?
The third challenge is to build the organisation, which has been shrinking. Does he have any out-of-the-box ideas in this regard? Yechury faces the onerous task to attract the younger generation whose aspirations are different. He has to also restore the earlier pan-India character of the party.
The party has to shed its old mindset and walk apace with the rest of the world. It has to do away with some of its ideas, like anti-imperialism, which is no more relevant. Even countries like China and Russia are changing at a fast rate. With the party’s decision to conduct an organisational plenum before the year-end, this will be his biggest challenge as it would be after three decades, that such an attempt is being made.
The fourth challenge will be to work for the unity of the Left Front. This will help the party to remain relevant. The four Left parties have not even been fighting together in the elections, although there have been talks about the merger of the CPI and the CPI(M).
Yechury himself talked about the merger soon after he took over as the General Secretary although no time-frame was given. He told reporters, “Merger is still on cards. But, the first issue is to strengthen our party, based on which, work for the unity of Left Forces is to be undertaken, and again based on which, mobilising Left and democratic forces together will be done.”For this to happen, the two parties will have to iron out their differences. The fifth challenge is to unite the Opposition. The secular/communal plank has not worked against the BJP. No Third Front can ever become a reality unless the Left parties support it.
Yechury also has an advantage. He is known to be a pragmatic and flexible leader who is in tune with the modern world. He has friends across the political spectrum and excellent media support. He has proved his negotiating skills earlier.
If the Janata Parivar merger clicks in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, his task will become all the more easy. Yechury is also known to have an excellent equation with Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Therefore, he can play a crucial role in forging a unity with the Congress.
However, the 21st party congress document is critical of the Congress’s role. Efforts should be made to keep the anti-BJP votes in tact. Above all, the acid test is to bring West Bengal back to the CPI(M)’s fold. Kerala too will go to polls. The good news is that, unlike West Bengal which has registered a drop of over 40,000 members, party membership in Kerala has seen an increase.
In West Bengal, after the Saradha chit fund scam, the Trinamool Congress is facing a tough time. The CPI(M) has not been able to recover the lost ground. Added to the worries is the spread of the BJP, which is making inroads in West Bengal. The sagging morale of the CPI(M) worker needs to be lifted.
Yechury has to lead the party, both in Parliament and on the street, to fight the Right-wing elements if he wants to succeed. The Labour Party in the UK revamped itself to survive. Perhaps Yechury should attempt something similar.