From opposing computers to digital push, CPI(M) has come a long way

Communist party plans IT cell ahead of Bengal Assembly polls, urges members and supporters to ‘generously donate’ for digital campaign

The CPI (M)'s IT cell will be manned by 25-30 members drawn from the party’s students and youth wings with IT background. Representative photo: iStock

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has now woken up to the digital reality, appealing its members and supporters to “generously donate” to the party fund created for its digital campaign.

The appeal of the largest communist party in the country comes amidst the BJP’s decision to appoint its IT cell chief Amit Malviya as co in-charge in Bengal ostensibly to counter the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s digital outreach, spearheaded by poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

In the website of the party’s Bengal unit, the CPI (M) put up the appeal giving details of online and other payment options.

Related news: BJP ‘enemy number one,’ growing at Left’s expense in Bengal: CPI (ML)

Not only this, the party has also issued a circular to its members to donate their three-day income to the fund. However, those members who have lost jobs during the lockdown could apply for the exemption.

A CPI (M) member said the party was now largely depending on donation from supporters as its membership has dwindled since it lost power in 2011. In the last nine years its membership strength has dropped – to 1,60,485 this year from over 3 lakh in 2011.

The CPI (M) which strongly opposed introduction of computers to India during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime in the mid-1980s, turned over a new leaf using virtual platforms for holding meetings and to reach out to the masses to overcome the COVID-19-induced restrictions.

The party held its first politburo meeting through video conferencing amidst the pandemic in June this year. Not only that, the party started using in-house platform developed by IT experts linked to the party for its activities.

The videoconferencing platform developed by the party for its internal use was more secure, the CPI (M) sources said, adding it has moved away from its past inhibition about computer long ago.

Erstwhile West Bengal chief minister and senior CPI (M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in 2004 had famously claimed that the party’s opposition to computer was a “foolish” action.

Despite the change of heart vis-a-vis the computer, the party’s digital presence in West Bengal has remained negligible though the party had gone digital ahead of 2016 assembly elections.

This time the party is determined to increase its digital presence in the state. According to party insiders an office space will be taken near the party’s state headquarters at the Alimuddin Street for setting up of its IT campaign cell.

The cell will be manned by 25-30 members drawn from the party’s students and youth wings with IT background, sources added.

Related news: TMC MLAs are miffed with star poll strategist Prashant Kishor

Interestingly, in the run up to the Bihar elections the CPI (M) had opposed the Bihar CEO’s proposal that the entire election should be held on a virtual platform because of the raging pandemic.

In a letter to the election commission CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said it was opposed to the proposal not only because of the issue of a huge access deficit , but massive financial resources that would have to be deployed to connect with the voters.

 

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