On 28 September, a Supreme Court bench granted women of all ages the right to enter the Sabarimala temple (PTI)
On 28 September, a Supreme Court bench granted women of all ages the right to enter the Sabarimala temple (PTI)

Blame game emerges in CPM over Kerala poll debacle

  • The Kerala unit of the CPM refused to admit the wrath of God Ayyappa, the main deity at the Sabarimala temple, as the biggest reason for the poll debacle
  • State unit leaders reportedly questioned the party’s soft approach to Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi, who eventually contested from Kerala

Bengaluru: It may be ironic that a communist party has to discuss the wrath of God as a reason for its poll setback, but that is exactly how it turned out to be in the just-concluded politburo meeting of India’s biggest communist party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM.

Even as CPM leader and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed no remorse in his aggressive tackling of the Sabarimala agitation, the national leadership of the CPM criticised the state unit for not rightly assessing the topic’s impact on voters and losing the political stage over it, according to a top CPM leader who requested not to be named.

Meanwhile, he added, the Kerala unit refused to admit the wrath of God Ayyappa, the main deity at the Sabarimala temple, as the biggest reason for the poll debacle. State unit leaders instead questioned the party’s national leadership and its soft approach to Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi, who eventually contested from Kerala, resulting in his party’s record sweeping of the state’s 19 out of 20 seats.

The state unit cited that the party’s refusal to bring down the stature of the Congress and Gandhi made it look weaker to resist the BJP among minorities in Kerala. The blame game comes after the CPM faced a near rout in Kerala. After losing power in West Bengal and Tripura, its erstwhile strongholds, the results show that the CPM is one stop away from losing power in Kerala, the last red state, with assembly polls in the state only two years away.

The CPM has denied any rift within the party. Talking to reporters after the politburo meeting on Monday, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the party would look into all issues that led to the debacle in Kerala. On the impact of Sabarimala, he said that everything was being reviewed. “There is various opinion, reports will come in and we will have to go by the ground reports on how and which issues impacted us. That will happen. That is an exercise we will definitely do….we are already undertaking. The process has begun," he said, according to a report in the 'Indian Express'.

However, speaking in Kerala on Monday, A Vijayaraghavan, a top CPM leader and the party's convenor of alliance Left Democratic Front in Kerala, played down the impact of the agitation over the results. In a press statement, the CPM said further detail discussions on the results will take place after taking inputs from respective state units in a sit down of ‘Central Committee’, its highest decision-making body, from 7 June onwards in Delhi. The Kerala unit will meet from 30 May onwards. While Surjya Kanta Mishra, CPM’s secretary in West Bengal, where the party drew a blank in parliamentary polls for the first time, reportedly offered to step down in the politburo meet, no such reports emerged from the Kerala unit so far.

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