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CPM meet this week to review poll debacle

CPM meet this week to review poll debacle
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First Published: Wed, Jun 08 2011. 11 55 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Jun 08 2011. 11 55 PM IST
New Delhi : A month after being defeated in its strongholds of West Bengal and Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, will review its election performance when the party’s top brass meet later this week in Hyderabad.
The party suffered a historical loss in West Bengal after ruling the state continuously for 34 years. The three-day meet of the party’s central committee, its apex decision-making body, beginning 10 June, is expected to assess the defeat in the recent elections. This is the first central committee meeting after the April-May state polls.
M.K. Pandhe, politburo member of the party, said “there is no agenda” other than the election review in the meeting. “Election will be the main point—why we have lost in Bengal and Kerala,” he said. “Various state committees have already discussed the matter. Their reports will be considered by the central committee.”
The party lost in Kerala by a wafer-thin margin of four seats. While the CPM-led Left Democratic Front won 68 seats, the Congress party-led United Democratic Front (UDF) steered to victory with 72 seats.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has indicated that the flip-flop over the candidature of former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan went against the party in Kerala.
Subrata Mukherjee, retired professor of political science, University of Delhi, said the meeting is crucial for the CPM to chart its future course.
“The party is in terminal decline, and unless it changes its form from a highly centralized party structure to a socialist democratic formation in a larger democratic set-up, it will decline further,” he said.
In West Bengal, the party was reduced to 40 seats from the 176 it had won in 2006. To add to this, 27 of the government’s incumbent ministers lost in the elections. The dramatic West Bengal results are set to dominate discussions in the coming meeting.
“For the first time in 34 years we lost an assembly election (in West Bengal), we lost a big share of votes,” said central committee member Nilotpal Basu.
He said the meeting will look at “where we went wrong, what are the changes that have taken place and how do we re-position ourselves among the people”.
The politburo, which earlier met on 16 May in New Delhi, has conceded in its preliminary assessment of the poll results that the party leadership erred in taking calls.
Pandhe, however, ruled out any leadership changes based on the election analysis.
“I don’t think there will be any changes within the party. All the decisions have been taken collectively and no individual can be held responsible,” Pandhe said.
The party congress, which was initially scheduled for this year but was postponed in view of the assembly elections, will be held in the second quarter of 2012.
anuja@livemint.con
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First Published: Wed, Jun 08 2011. 11 55 PM IST