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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 32, July 25, 2009

Armageddon and After

Monday 27 July 2009, by N A Karim

The CPM will never be the same after the disastrous Delhi decision of the Central leadership on July 12, 2009.

The long awaited final decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party-Marxist on that day after prolonged discussions at various State and central levels apparently to end factionalism in the Kerala State unit of the CPM did not surprise anyone but disappointed many in the party and its fellow-travellers. The nature of the punishment was less severe than generally expected. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan was removed from the membership of the Polit-Bureau of the party for “his indiscipline and not conforming to the organisational principles about which he had been warned several times before ever since groupism began in the State party two-decades ago”. At one time both party Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and the then Opposition leader, V.S. Achuthanandan, had been together removed from the PB for their same sins but both were later reinstated.

The context now is very different from what it was then. The worst ever debacle of the party in the State in the last Lok Sabha elections woke up the party from its complacence. What went wrong and where? The central leadership had to find out a plausible explanation for the rout of the party at the hustings this time. The threadbare discussions at various State levels sometimes in the presence of the central party General Secretary revealed one sad fact: that factionalism had gone deep into all levels of which the party had warned several times before and had suggested remedial measures which evidently had no effect on the two rival groups and their followers in the party. Unable to take any strong action to end this malaise the central leadership followed an ostrich-like policy till now which exposed not only its weakness but raised the suspicion whether the PB itself has been infected with the virus of groupism. Its sympathies are evidently with the Pinarayi group not merely on a personal level but also in an ideological sense.

The New Delhi decision to oust Achuthanandan from PB and defend Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case “legally and politically” is a message to party cadres that the central leadership is one with Vijayan who is reinventing the party in the changed liberalised world. The July 12 decision is a turning-point in the history of the party transforming itself into a full-fledged bourgeois party competing for political power with other parties further jettisoning the Marxist ideological baggage of revolutionary action for meaningful social change. Mobilising money from all sources and by all means, feeding on petty grievances of workers, peasants, government employees, students, small traders, etc. the party hopes to regain lost ground in the State as well as in Bengal and other pockets. The Marxian rhetoric will be used appropriately with no attempt to educate the workers, peasants ideologically for real revolutionary radical change in the society with a genuine socialist world-view.

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Communist Parties have been drifting away from Marxist philosophy of revolutionary action ever since the democratic parliamentary election avenues were opened up with the Republican Constitution coming into force. The praise for V.S. Achuthanandan for his revolutionary contribution to the party in the past along with the decision to remove him from the PB is evidence of this. His rigid ideological adherence to several issues including the fight against corruption has become a hindrance for the functioning of the party in the changed context, and the new political style in which Pinarayi Vijayan and his cohorts want to take the party along. The new central leadership has profound sympathy for the old Achuthanandan who has outlived his political purpose and has become a clog in the wheel of the party of which Pinarayi Vijayan has firmly entrenched himself in the driver’s seat. He wants to take the party along the route he has charted out with his own ideas for which the Chief Minister’s outdated ideals are a liability, not an asset.

Anyhow the CPM will never be the same after the disastrous final decision of the Central Committee at Delhi on July 12, 2009 to sacrifice Achuthanandan and back up Pinarayi Vijayan, the State party chief. The message of the decision is clear and loud to the cadres and the general public.

Dr N.A. Karim is a former Professor of English and erstwhile Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

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