Will the CPI(M) totter and collapse under the burden of a calcified load of outdated jargons and political claptrap or will it lunge and clutch at the Congress buoy and survive, as an effigy of its old self? The communist party’s Kolkata plenum offered some answers
That the Communist Party of India (Marxist) suffers from an acute dialectical delusion, and has reduced itself to only trying to consider how it can best become the Congress’s political lackey, was evident in the level and texture of debate that took place in its just concluded plenum in Kolkata. The party and its leaders reserved their bluff and bluster of being a vehicle for the “toiling masses” only for the consumption of the sourced crowd that had been collected or rather had been enticed to converge upon the Kolkata Maidan, with the promise of a free winter day trip to Kolkata, a visit to its many landmarks and a sumptuous meal of basic Bengali delicacies.
Behind the CPI(M)’s dialectical smokescreen of employing “flexibility tactics to deal with swift changes” is actually an abject acceptance of a profound lack of direction and sense of purpose and utility in the current Indian political climate and context. It betrays the party’s apprehension of making or eking out a living by latching on to the apron string of a dynasty-led Congress from which it has, often in the past, derived political oxygen and academic sustenance.
So bereft was the Congress of intellectual strength or stamina that it had outsourced the running of major social science and other academic institutions to card-carrying members of communist parties who passed off as historians and legists of India’s civilisational evolution. It was pathetic to see a political party which had led India’s freedom movement but then died a violent and rupturous death in 1969, giving birth to a semi-clone called the Congress (I), handover the writing of that history essentially to Guignols who never participated in the freedom movement and were, instead, actively engaged in opposing it.
Why should the control of writing the history of India’s freedom movement be vested with those who were never an active part of it and were opposed to it, or why should the control of history-writing be handed over to those who have been opposed to the evolution of India into a cohesive, sturdy and self-reliant entity, or be given into the hands of those who owed allegiance to foreign political conglomerates and sought directions from these, are all points that have never been adequately explained either by the Congress or its leaders.
Behind this academic ceding, was the political support and the effective implementation of a larger propaganda strategy which saw comrade-bards sing paeans to the greatness of the dynasty and its political conglomerate a first class and nefarious quid-pro-quo arrangement that has been perpetrated in the name of trying to preserve the secular character of the nation.
Whenever the CPI(M) has sensed an existential challenge, whenever it has been reduced to irrelevance which has been often and whenever it has seen its grip loosening over institutions on which it has perpetrated a Stalinist control, it has always brought to the front bogeys of divisiveness and of conflict and generated the false fear of a siege within. Leave aside its barbs on the 56-inch, in reality, in its present state, the CPI(M) is unsure of how it ought to move 56 steps on the political chessboard or track. Will it totter and collapse under the burden of a calcified load of outdated jargons and political claptrap or lunge and clutch at the Congress buoy and survive, as an effigy of its old self, is a question that is easy enough to answer or solve.
The CPI(M)’s call for forging a unity of the masses, to “set up joint platforms with various social movements, people’s mobilization and issued based movements” and “adopting a mass line and establish live links with people” is an acceptance that it has actually shrunk and snapped all its links or the few that it had with the masses. Its link and promotion of the causes of the masses was more of an inflated claim but today even that inflation is proving to be a hollow one.
Devoid of youth strength it had tossed out more than half of its youth leadership in a farcical ideological putsch about three years back and unable to attract young minds or reflect youth aspirations, incapable of expanding its base beyond a few pockets and failing to re-invent and re-articulate its political line and positions in an increasingly dynamic world of rapid civilisational movements, the CPI(M) is clamping itself up in an ice-age that is rapidly enveloping its mind-space and its thinking.
The only way it keeps itself relevant is by taking petty and irrational potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Such routine barks and teeth-gnashing keeps it relevant and alive for a rabid section that thrives and enriches itself through a daily churning out of anti-RSS and anti-Modi propaganda that would put Goebbels to shame.
The CPI(M)’s ‘charismatic’ leader Sitaram Yechury, in whom the party had pinned great hope for a revival and retrieval has, in reality, let it down. Through a well-crafted rigmarole, comrade Yechury has led the party into a blind alley from where the choice is either dissolution or the creation of a dialectical fantasy tale that will be used to try to convince the rank and file that the only viable course is to team up with the bourgeois Congress and, thus, survive. Such a line, when adopted, would then be given a veneer of extensive ideological debate and the stamp of the ‘venerable’ politbureau, which would then push it as the only line worth pursuing to achieve the larger and ‘historic’ goal of a proletarian consolidation.
This has been the historical pattern of communist politics in India and the Kolkata plenum was no different. It was essentially an occasion for the CPI(M) to reiterate and pledge allegiance to its Congress masters at a time when nationalist forces, led by the Modi dispensation, pose a severe challenge to its brand of de-nationalised, rootless and disruptive politics.
In an India that aspires for liberated greatness and for a regional and global profile that befits its essential civilisational stature and aspiration, the constricted politics of communism as espoused by the CPI(M) has really no role or future place. The process of that ultimate political dissolution has already begun. The tactical line-lies articulated in the Kolkata plenum by the CPI(M) leaders, was an early spill-out of that.