Yechury Wins, Left Party Removes Bar On “Understanding” With INC
A landmark decision in the CPI(M) party Congress, as the much-famed ‘internal democracy’ prevailed leading to a defeat for Prakash Karat.
In a historic move, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) fell in line with party general secretary Sitaram Yechury and has unanimously decided to remove the former general secretary Prakash Karat’s contentious line, which ruled out any “understanding” with the Indian National Congress party.
The dramatic turnaround came as more than 16 state units demanded a secret ballot to choose between the two versions of the political and tactical line. Apart from being a big win for Yechury, it opens up the contours of united opposition politics in India leading into 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Left supporters say that this is truly a momentous chapter in Communist movement’s history, particularly in the history of CPI(M) which has held back even veteran battle hardy leaders like HKS Surjeet and Jyoti Basu to bite the dust in inner-party discussions.
Earlier today, as the Politburo of the party met for longer than usual, suspense grew about a compromise being worked upon. Later, addressing the party Congress, party general secretary Yechury appealed for unity. He said, “we are proud of the CPI(M). It is the only party in India today which can undertake such a democratic exercise to decide its future direction. We have all agreed that our main fight is against the BJP/RSS and to defeat this Government. After this Congress, we go back in a unified manner take this fight throughout the country to mobilize the vast mass of our people on the guidance of the political resolution. I appeal to all of you to strengthen the Party, our unity and our fight to defeat this Government”.
Prakash Karat, in an effort to underplay the retreat from his stubborn position still could not shy away from acknowledging the historicity of the moment, when he said “it is unprecedented that two views have been put before the Congress. The Central Committee decided that since this is a political issue it should be decided in the highest body of the Party, the Party Congress. That is why Comrade Sitaram Yechury placed the CC minority point of view.”
Karat almost conceded his unprecedented clampdown when he added, “It is not a question of some words ‘understanding and alliance’ as some delegates have stated.” For over two decades, Karat has been the so-called ‘hardliner’ who has been at the centre of efforts to deny Jyoti Basu the Prime Ministership in 1996 and Somnath Chatterjee, India’s Presidentship in 2007. Karat ensured that the stalwart Chatterjee was eventually expelled a year later. He added, “It is not a question of some words ‘understanding and alliance’ as some delegates have stated. It is the approach of how best to fight the BJP RSS and ensure their defeat.”
Effectively, in the Political Tactical Line, Para 2.115 (ii) the following sentence has been deleted: “However, this has to be done without having an understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress Party”. A new clause (iii) has instead been added: “But this has to be done without having a political alliance with the Congress Party”, along with a new clause (iv) that is a sharp break from Karat rigid isolationism, which cost the party dearly in his decade at the helm.
The new clause now reads: “However, there can be an understanding with all secular opposition parties including the Congress in parliament on agreed issues. Outside parliament, we should cooperate with all secular opposition forces for a broad mobilization of people against communalism. We should foster joint actions of class and mass organisations, in such a manner that can draw in the masses following the Congress and other bourgeois parties.”
While this is a very important victory for those advocating a broad front within the CPI(M), the battle is far from over. It will be a busy Saturday for the party. The next big question before the party Congress is whether Yechury who won the major battle will succeed in strengthening his position in Central Committee, which is the body that clears all important decisions until next Congress in 2021, including actual tactics in 2019 elections.
As per article 12(4) of the party Constitution, “The Central Committee shall represent the Party as a whole and be responsible for directing the entire work of the Party. The Central Committee (CC) shall have the right to take decisions with full authority on any question facing the Party.”
Unless the majority of the Central Committee follows the general secretary and majority of Polit Bureau falls in line, it will be another attempt to tie the Yechury’s hands. Most Left supporters believe that he should get a free hand in decisions and then the next Congress can make him accountable if he fails to hold results with his line.