New Delhi: If it was the Bharatiya Janata Party that signalled its intent to tap the Dalit vote through a campaign launched earlier this week by its spiritual parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it was the turn of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) on Thursday to target the same group, a clear indication that parties across the political spectrum believe that this vote is up for grabs.

On the third day of the CPM’s 21st party congress, the dominant constituent of the Left Front—a bloc of communist parties—passed a resolution demanding a legal mechanism to prevent the “continuing discrimination against people belonging to the scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs)".

Targeting the centre for reducing the allocation to SC, ST and the tribal sub-plan (TSP), a plan focused on tribal populations, CPM politburo member Brinda Karat, said: “The central and state governments are charged to allocate resources to SC and ST (people) in accordance to (their proportion in) the population. The (Narendra) Modi-led central government’s allocation to the SC, ST and TSP was only 10%. This is a huge shortfall in terms of money."

Briefing journalists about the party congress in Visakhapatnam, Karat said that the centre is focused only on policies that benefit corporates. “We want a legal mechanism to ensure that the continuing discrimination against SC/ST is prevented."

Over the next three days, the ongoing party congress will elect a new central committee, politburo and general secretary. The last party congress in 2012 was criticized then for failing to come up with a roadmap to electorally revive the CPM. This party congress aims at building a new strategy to revive the party ahead of state polls in West Bengal and Kerala.

Amiya K. Chaudhuri, a West Bengal-based political analyst and member of Lokniti network of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said: “As a party, the CPM has become irrelevant. Though it may have representation in Parliament, its philosophy has no future in Indian politics today. From that perspective the party has to revive itself. The organisational structure of the CPM has collapsed."

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