New Delhi: Its new “rectification” programme may have come in for criticism from minority groups, but the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, will go ahead and launch this week an attempt at political, ideological and organizational course correction.
The move, prompted by the party’s poor performance in last year’s general election, requires leaders to disclose details of their personal net worth, and adhere to a certain lifestyle.
Some directives of the rectification effort have proved controversial: Christian and Muslim leaders have criticized one edict preventing party members from participating in religious functions and ceremonies.
That doesn’t seem to have made an impact on the CPM, whose 87-member central committee will meet in Kolkata from 4-6 February to take up the rectification programme. This will be preceeded by a meeting of the party’s apex body, the politburo, on Wednesday.
Reviewing change: CPM politburo member S. Ramachandran Pillai.
According to a senior politburo member, the three-day meeting will focus on implementing the rectification programme.
“The committee will also discuss individual and collective deviations in the party—both political and lifestyle related—and prepare a review document,” said S. Ramachandran Pillai, senior CPM leader and a politburo member, who added that the programme will be implemented by 30 June.
In January, K.S. Manoj, a former Lok Sabha member of the CPM and a Christian, quit the party protesting the edict against participation in religious functions. Last year, Kerala unit member A.P. Abdullakutty cited the CPM’s “negative attitude to the religious freedom of party members” as one reason for leaving the party.
Pillai defended the directive: “We don’t prevent believers from joining the party, but we do not encourage obscurantist rituals. The party believes in dialectical materialism. So we do not approve of our party members organizing religious functions and rituals.”
He also said this directive was part of a 1996 document put out by the party on how its members should conduct themselves.
The CPM has 16 representatives in the current Lok Sabha, its lowest ever. The number contrasts sharply with the 43 it had in the previous Lok Sabha. The party, which has ruled West Bengal for over three decades, is preparing for the 2011 polls in the state where it is up against a strong rival, the Trinamool Congress, that has been making inroads into traditional CPM bastions. Another party stronghold Kerala also goes to polls next year.