Coimbatore: As Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, party faithfuls gather in this textile city to celebrate their 19th Congress, their leader Prakash Karat is making it clear the party must continue to attack what he dubs as neo-liberal government policies playing havoc with the lives of the Indian working classes.
“While big business and urban elites are enjoying the benefits of faster economic growth and rising purchasing power, the working class in urban areas and almost all the agrarian classes in the rural areas are experiencing dwindling opportunities of income and employment,” says the draft political resolution that will be debated over the next three days in closed-door sessions of the party’s congress.
The city, meanwhile, is festooned with red flags displaying the hammer-and-sickle, and hoardings of the Big Four—Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Lenin and Stalin, along with the CPM’s two major leaders, Karat and Sitaram Yechury.
Party politburo member Brinda Karat, who is married to Karat, told journalists that the party was emboldened to continue with its policy of attacking the government’s neo-liberal and pro-US agenda, especially since rising prices had cast such a long shadow on growth. “In the last week itself, we have seen that inflation has risen as much as 6.68%,” she pointed out. “This is a major failure of UPA (United Progressive Alliance).”
Road map: CPM general secretary Prakash Karat. The congress may see the party pledging to block the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The Congress Party-led UPA is supported from outside by CPM.
In all likelihood, at the end of the next three days, CPM will have redoubled its intention to block the Indo-US nuclear deal that has become emblematic of the party’s antipathy towards America.
With 61 MPs in Parliament (of which CPM contributes 44), the Left Front appears determined to stall India’s nuclear deal with the US, try to reorient the economic agenda while still oppose communal (read Bharatiya Janata Party) forces.
With national elections likely within the year and several key state elections coming up, “it was even more incumbent upon CPM to apply the brakes” on the Congress-led government, said one party member who didn’t want to be named.
Still, it’s not as if all is well within the party. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has been openly at odds with the party, especially over industrialization and attracting foreign direct investment. Also, last year’s pitched battles between CPM cadres and local villages in and around Nandigram in the West Bengal is also likely to be a major source of disagreement over how to take land reforms and pro-poor policies forward.
Over in Kerala, where 19 out of 20 MPs are with the Left Front, chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan and party chief Pinaryi Vijayan were both blacklisted from the party’s Politburo for their public ideological battles.
It appears that the Congress will also debate a “code of conduct” to be followed by Left-run governments.
Two CPM stalwarts, Harkishen Singh Surjeet and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu are skipping the event. Surjeet is very ill and the 92-year-old Basu has opted to record a video message.