Karat finds Congress, not Modi, against the working class

Historically, CPM’s opposition to Congress never succeeded in broadening the support base of the Left. Instead, it always led to strengthening of the communal, fascist forces.


Zafar Agha

Prakash Karat ultimately prevailed over CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury in deciding the crucial party line regarding Communists’ relationship with Congress Party. Karat, in fact, received overwhelming support from his comrades over Yechury and declared Congress as untouchable for any kind of ‘’understanding and alliance’’ for the CPI (M) in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

It was an old clash of personalities and egos between the Karat and Yechury camps that was at play during the Calcutta party central committee meeting. It was rather an old clash of Kerala versus Bengal CPI (M) units that overwhelmingly dominates the largest Left party in the country. Karat, a former secretary general of the party, represents Kerala while Yechury has his power base in Bengal.

Karat had lost to Yechury in the battle for the top party post in the last round when his nominee could not stop Sitaram from taking over as the CPI (M) general secretary. Karat had his sweet revenge while forcing his comrade-in-arms Yechury to accept his line viz a viz Congress Party. The clash of personalities is yet not over as Yechury supporters point out that they will rake up the issue in the party congress, which is the supreme forum to finalise the political line adopted in the central committee.

Karat is a dogmatic communist, who like most of his Kerala comrades loves to hate Congress Party. It was Karat who as the then party general secretary had forced the Left parties to sever their ties with the Manmohan Singh government after it signed the nuclear deal with the American administration in 2008. Yechury, said to be more pragmatic in his political functioning, is always interested in forging a broad anti-communal forces’ front to stop the march of BJP in Indian politics. But Karat always manages to hobble his rival with his manoeuvring in the various crucial party fora.

Frankly, there is nothing ideological about the clash of personalities that is at play within the CPI (M) nowadays. It is plain and simple power politics that is haunting the CPI (M). Neither Karat nor Yechury have any revolutionary credentials to their credit. Both are arm chair middle class communists who have no great ‘working class struggle’ to boast. Their only claim to fame is that both are former JNUSU presidents and played a key role in establishing the CPI (M) student wing SFI’s sway over the students of prestigious national university.

Karat and Yechury clash apart, the CPI (M) since its inception in 1964 has always played an anti-Congress role in Indian politics. It has, in fact, wittingly or unwittingly, always helped communal forces led by the RSS to gain a foothold in Indian politics. During the famous JP movement days in early 1970s when Indian politics was polarised between Indira Gandhi and non-Indira Gandhi camps, the CPI (M) hitched onto the JP bandwagon that had the full support of the RSS and its the then political arm Jan Sangh.

There was nothing revolutionary about Jay Prakash Narain. At a time when Indira Gandhi was taking steps like abolition of privy purses of erstwhile feudal princes and taking over big banks owned by ‘’capitalists’’, the CPI (M) decided to back JP who was leading a movement to unseat Indira for moving India closer to the then Soviet Union. The only justification for the CPI (M) was that Indira had imposed internal emergency which led to suspension of civil rights.

Indeed, it was a retrograde step on Indira’s part. But the CPI (M) support led to Jan Sangh get a foothold in central government after the 1977 electoral victory of ant-Indira front called Janata Party. The CPI (M) thus helped the growth of communal forces in the country for the first time in 1977 and gave Jan Sangh and its leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani a legitimacy which they had never enjoyed earlier.

The CPI (M) again helped the BJP gain legitimacy in Indian politics when it along with the BJP and RSS backed V P Singh’s anti-Bofors movement which replaced the Congress government of Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. The joint Left parties led by the CPI (M) and the BJP support to V P Singh government hardly led to any growth of Left forces in India but communal forces grew from strength to strength.

Similarly, when CPI (M) stalwart Jyoti Basu was offered the prime ministerial berth in 1998, late EMS Namboodiripad backed by the Kerala unit, scuttled Basu’s chances on flimsy ideological grounds. The ‘’historical blunder’’, as Jyoti Basu later described it , led to the rise of first BJP led government at the centre in the next round of elections held soon after in 1998.

Ironically, Prakash Karat like his mentor Namboodiripad has once again forced a myopic party line that will surely scuttle an anti-BJP political front at a time when communal forces have already assumed hegemony in Indian politics. Karat’s move is a blessing in disguise for Narendra Modi, whose politics is now reaching fascist levels. But for Karat and his CPI (M) comrades Congress Party is a greater threat to ‘Indian working class and the poor’ than Narendra Modi.

Many communist friends may frown upon the statement that the CPI (M) has always helped the growth of communal forces led by the RSS-BJP in Indian politics. But the country’s most important Left Party’s track record confirms the worst doubt about the CPI (M). Karat is no exception to the dubious politics that the CPI (M) has been playing for decades now. It is time to call its bluff and leave it to itself in forging opposition unity in Indian politics. It is already no longer a force it used to be. So why indeed bother about a spent force? It can be safely left to repent its myopic politics at leisure.

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