CPI(M) leadership admits to dismal performance in general elections

Central panel identifies multiple factors contributing to the defeat, believes reclaiming communist ideals may help regain support

Representative image (file photo)
Representative image (file photo)

NH Digital

At the end of the two-day meeting of its central committee, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) national leadership has acknowledged that the party’s performance in the recently concluded general elections was disappointing.

The CPI(M) central committee met in New Delhi from 28-30 June, and in a communiqué issued after the meeting, stated that the committee had critically evaluated the party’s performance in all states, and weaknesses and shortcomings were identified and pinpointed. It added that the party hopes to overcome these shortcomings soon.

The CPI(M) contested 52 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections compared to 71 in 2019. Of these, it won four seats (two in Tamil Nadu, one each in Kerala and Rajasthan). “However, the performance of the Party is disappointing,” stated the communique. In 2019, too, the party had won only one seat in Kerala, despite being in power in the state.

According to sources, the CPI(M) national leadership rejected the Kerala unit’s explanation of a consolidation of communal votes, Centre’s strangulation of state finances which led to default in payment of social welfare pensions, and the alliance the CPI(M) had with the Congress in other parts of the country, as being the reasons behind the party’s poor showing.

Though the state leadership attempted to blame the alliance with Congress as the reason for the stinging loss in Kerala, the majority of central committee members dismissed this view. The Bengal unit strongly supported the Congress alliance during the discussion.

The committee identified multiple factors contributing to the defeat and expressed the belief that reclaiming communist ideals could help regain popular support. The directives include investigating the underlying causes of anti-incumbency sentiment. Central leaders have been given the responsibility to hold state-level leadership meetings to analyse the reasons behind the defeat.

With the CPI(M) managing to win just one of the 20 seats in Kerala, the national meeting of the party saw a section of state leaders like Thomas Isaac pointing out the "real reasons" for the debacle, with P. Rajeev, K.K. Shailaja acknowledging the prevalent anti-incumbency sentiment.

A few other leaders such as Elamaram Kareem tried their best to defend Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, but the national leadership dismissed all explanations.

A section of the state leadership is also upset as currently, all three key posts of chief minister, state party secretary and Left convenor are held by leaders from Kannur. A shake-up in the Kerala cabinet is also being mulled, said sources. In an effort to revive its image, the central committee has also decided to initiate efforts to connect with the people.

Soon after the Lok Sabha results, several state-level committees went soft on CM Vijayan, but most of the 14 district committees pointed fingers at him and the scams associated with his daughter.

CPI(M) district committees in Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam criticised Vijayan and attributed the LDF's heavy loss in the Lok Sabha election to his "arrogance and negative public image". Vijayan’s family, specifically daughter T. Veena, has also been facing charges of receiving money from a Kochi-based firm for IT services not rendered.

The district committee had also criticised the private secretaries of state ministers, claiming that government officials, rather than the party, are effectively in control of the administration.

In its communiqué, the party central committee stated that “the Central Committee concluded that the struggles for the defence of the Indian Constitution, secular democracy, federalism, and people’s civil liberties, along with the struggles for improved livelihoods for the vast majority of the Indian people, will have to be intensified both inside and outside Parliament. The CPI(M) will undertake this task both jointly with secular democratic parties and independently across the country”.

The Central Committee’s statement also condemned the spate of horrific attacks against the lives, livelihood and properties of Muslims, while also expressing concern at the anguish and trauma faced by lakhs of students, their parents and others affected by the scandals surrounding the exams conducted by the National Testing Agency.

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