The just-concluded party Congress of the CPI (M), held in Hyderabad, has spawned many a surprise with the avowed Marxists or communists finally deciding to fight the next Loksabha polls in alliance with secular democratic forces. Expectedly , the party is viscerally opposed to having anything to do with the BJP which is a rightist reactionary force in their political assessment. What is positively bizarre is that this particular issue which could be settled in meetings of party’s highest committees like the politburo and central committee saw much infighting in the Marxist party between rival factions led by former general secretary Prakash Karat and the incumbent Sitaram Yechudi who had to suffer the ignominy of seeing his decisions being rejected by the central committee dominated by followers of Prakash Karat. Actually this was a power struggle involving the two tallest leaders of the party but it had to be fought on an issue and the issue turned out to be identification and acceptance of Congress as the lesser evil and fighting polls in alliance with it. This was being advocated by Sitaram Yechudi and opposed tooth and nail by Prakash Karat and his diehard followers and the issue was left to be decided by the party Congress. He had also suffered the humiliation of not being able to contest Rajya Sabha elections from West Bengal on the basis of an old party advisory but actually because of pressure from the Karat lobby in the party.
The long and often acrimonious discussion over the issue finally caused a rift and it was decided that the issue would be decided by a vote by secret ballot to which both the factions agreed. Sitaram cleverly realized well in advance that if he had to secure defection from the puritan Karat camp he had to seek a vote by secret ballot. When this ultimately happened Sitaram faction won convincingly as some of the followers of Prakash Karat, keen to hold on to power or capture it piggyback on Congress, preferred to support Sitaram. The issue clinched, Sitaram easily won the post the of party’s general secretary without any hiccup but he had to make a concession by agreeing to accept put forth by skeptical delegates that CPI(M) would not formally or directly ally with Congress but would look for secular and democratic allies which of course include Congress . Now the Marxists will go for ally-hunting , it can be safely presumed and predicted.
But was it really necessary to decide upon a simple question of choosing allies or fighting polls in alliance with parties, ideologically opposed to them ? Apart from the traditional propensity for bombast and clichés , the Marxists in India have always been known to be shameless hypocrites and duplicitous elements. In the seventies they not only opposed prime minister Indira Gandhi tooth and nail but used to portray her on walls as witches with long nails and beaks . ‘Indira-Yahya ek hai’ they wrote as slogan on the sidewalls of the streets of Calcutta and other cities at the height of the Bangladesh crisis in 1971.
Oblivious to their loud and cacophonous slogans against rightist forces and ‘Kulak’ elements, they lent outside support to the hotchportch Janata Party government in 1977 and then helped to pull down Morarji Desai in 1979. Till Indira Gandhi’s death and all through Rajiv Gandhi’s rule they opposed Congress and, most bizarrely,kept supporting the minority V.P.Singh government along side BJP. It was on July 1 1988 that former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu held up together the hands of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and V.P.Singh in a public rally at Calcutta. However, the opportunist CPI (M) got the scare of their lives when BJP started gaining in strength from early nineties and lent outside support to the minority P.V.Narasimha Rao government and blackmailed Congress into imposing president’s rule in Tripura to capture power here. But then when wily Rao managed to secure a majority by winning over MPs from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha the CPI (M) strongly resented this as it would neutralize their influence and wrist-wringing capacity for dominating Rao.
The perennially opportunistic CPI (M) played another dirty game in the name of outside support to the minority Congress government led by Dr Manmohan Singh from 2004 by blocking all important decisions and by withdrawing support to the government in July 2008 on the issues of Indo-US nuclear deal which is yet to be sealed. But they got the lesson of their life in 2009 when Congress considerably increased its tally to 2006 seats in the parliamentary elections and kept on mutedly supporting the Congress-led government for fear of BJP. But the nails on their coffins started being hit with their defeat in the assembly polls of West Bengal in 2011 and Kerala and BJP’s thumping victory in the loksabha polls of 2014. BJP’s consecutive victory in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and capture of power in Manipur made it sure that the left front would face disaster in the assembly polls of Tripura in 2018 but they looked away and remained complacent. Now having lost Tripura convincingly and with no chance of staging a comeback in West Bengal the Marxists are now minnows in national politics. So now they are badly in need of crutch to walk on the national political scene as well as to retain their fast-diminishing relevance but with rapid changes in national political scenario it is by now crystal clear that the Marxists or CPI (M) in Tripura are a fast-dying species.
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