Post-poll CPI(M) politburo meeting likely to be stormy

Last Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011 - 10:44

New Delhi: The post-poll meeting of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo here on Monday is likely stormy, with a number of leaders, especially from the West Bengal unit, up in arms against the line of general secretary Prakash Karat, which they believe had led to the rise of the Trinamool Congress and the overall decline of the CPI(M), party sources said.

However, the sources ruled out Karat`s immediate replacement.

"It is not the style of the CPI(M) or any Communist party to find scapegoats," a senior party leader said, on condition of anonymity.

Several members from West Bengal may criticise the line of Delhi-based leaders like Karat for pushing the party to a corner from the prime position it had during the UPA-1 regime, sources said.

Besides Bengal, a new controversy regarding the Kerala polls has also been brewing.

Some supporters of outgoing chief minister VS Achuthanandan have reportedly complained to the central leadership that the anti-VS group led by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had sabotaged the party`s chances, especially in Vijayan`s district Kannur.

Otherwise, the Left Front could have won a majority in Kerala, where it lost by a slender margin - it got 68 seats compared to the UDF`s 72 seats, the complainants have said.

The CPI(M) on Friday lost power in West Bengal after 34 years of continuous rule. It is now in power only in Tripura.

For the record, the politburo meeting is likely to put forth a message of unity and reiterate the policies pursued by the leadership.

Immediately after the Assembly poll results were out on Friday, the politburo said in a statement: "The results of West Bengal and Kerala will be a disappointment for the Left and democratic forces. But this will, by no means, make the Left policies and programmes irrelevant for the country."

Hinting that the Left was not thinking of any major policy change, the statement said: "The CPI(M) and the Left forces will continue to... vigorously pursue the struggle against the neo-liberal economic policies, defend the livelihood and interests of the working people and combat communalism and defend secularism."

Though the politburo may adopt a similar resolution, the meeting is likely to witness heated debates on the recent policies, party sources said.

Members, particularly from West Bengal, will repeat the blame on the Delhi-based leaders for hastening the withdrawal of support to the UPA-1 government in 2008 on the India-US nuclear deal, the sources said.

On the other side, the Delhi-based leaders find fault with the policies of West Bengal`s former Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government for pursuing unpopular land policies like those in Nandigram and Singur, which gave the Trinamool Congress` Mamata Banerjee a stick to beat the Left with.

In West Bengal, the CPI(M)-led Left Front managed just 61 seats, of which the CPI(M) got 40, in the 294-member Assembly.

The mud-slinging has already begun, not only against the Delhi-based leaders, but also against the Bengal-based leaders.

Razzak Mollah, a former minister who has been re-elected, said that Nirupam Sen, a politburo member and West Bengal`s outgoing industry minister, was the main culprit for the Bengal defeat as he had ignored earlier warnings by colleagues.

However, the central leaders tried to interpret the defeat in a broader way.

"It was a vote for change in West Bengal," said politburo member Sitaram Yechury, attempting to explain the absolute rout in the state. "The people opted for a change and the main beneficiary of the change has been the Trinamool Congress," he said.

"As far as West Bengal is concerned, 34 years of rule by the CPI(M) is a record. And a similar record is not present anywhere else in this democratic system," he added.

Explaining the situation in Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front (LDF) narrowly lost, the CPI(M) said: "The results show the people have by and large endorsed the record of the LDF government of the past five years."

Though there will be criticism against Karat, there is no question of removing him, party sources said.

Otherwise also, Karat`s term is ending this year, they point out. Karat became the general secretary in April 2005 and was re-elected for another three years in March 2008.

The triennial party congress has been postponed in view of the Assembly polls. It is likely to be held later this year.

Meanwhile, Karat told reporters that he was planning to propose a "retirement plan for party general secretaries".

"It can be a maximum of two terms or three terms for the top leaders. Several communist parties abroad have such a system," he pointed out.


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First Published: Monday, May 16, 2011 - 10:44

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