The Central Committee of the CPI(M) is set to meet in Kerala on Friday just days after the state government filed a case against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the Supreme Court. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government took the significant step following deliberations in the CPM politburo over the controversial legislation in Delhi over the last weekend. The politburo alleged that the BJP-led central government was discriminating against Kerala.
All these point to the likelihood that the party’s three-day Central Committee -- CC -- meeting at the EMS Academy at Vilappilsala would become a platform for resistance against the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
More noteworthy is the party shifting away from the political line that prevailed at the time of the previous CC meeting in Thiruvananthapuram and the Party Congress in Hyderabad. Its top leaders were then fighting each other over a proposal to align with the Congress to fight the BJP. The CPM was in a dilemma even as it put up a brave front against the BJP.
The party seems to have firmed up its resolve now. It has no doubts about its main foe, given the track record of Modi 2.0 and the nationwide resistance that stemmed from the government’s programmes. The party politburo decided to take part in the recent meeting of opposition parties convened by the Congress and even decided to sue the central government. The CPM has realised that now is not the time for ideological squabbles.
The CPM has suffered some losses in the meantime. The party won just 1.07 crore votes at the national level in last year’s general election. Almost half of it came from Kerala. The party lost 82 lakh votes when compared to the previous general election in 2014. In Bengal, the party’s vote share fell from 22.96 percent in 2014 to 6.28 percent in 2019. In Tripura, the party got only 3.72 lakh votes, compared to 13 lakh in 2014.
However, the politburo has assessed that the ground support for the general strike in Tripura as an indication of a turnaround in the BJP-ruled state. Yet the party is receiving nothing but setbacks in Bengal. The party which won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the state in its first general election in 1967 returned only three members to the Lok Sabha in the last election. The CC meeting is being held in Kerala, the only remaining red bastion in the country, amidst this grave crisis.
Stand on UAPA
The party would do well to take the CC meeting as an opportunity. Kerala has always been vital to the communist parties. The state elected a communist government in the first assembly election in 1957. The state also has the distinction of keeping the BJP at bay.
Kerala has emerged as a model for other non-BJP states to oppose the CAA. “Modi is getting even with Kerala for leading the movement against the CAA. The state was even denied flood relief. These actions are deliberate. It will lead to strong protest,” said CPM politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai.
The CC meeting has no agenda related to the party organisation. While the Pinarayi Vijayan government was successful in keeping even opposition Congress by its side in the protest against the CAA, its own ally, CPI, is challenging it when it comes to the imposition of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The CC is unlikely to discuss such contradictions in the state politics, but the party forum which took a strong stand against the UAPA is sure to give a flicker of hope to the parents of Allen and Thaha, two youngsters from Kozhikode who were slapped with sections under the UAPA by the state government ruled by the party.