CPI(M) Party Congress: Draft political resolution, induction of fresh faces on agenda
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CPI(M) Party Congress: Draft political resolution, induction of fresh faces on agenda

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The CPI(M) in Kerala is all set to host its 23rd Party Congress in Kannur starting Tuesday (April 5) evening. The party is slated to discuss three key issues at the conclave – the draft political resolution which would discuss its relationship with the Congress at the national level and CPI(M)’s role in a potential third front, the introduction of young blood to the central committee (CC), and the party’s Kerala unit’s changing approach towards development.

Kerala unit wary of Congress alliance

The CPI(M) in its draft political resolution envisages mobilising the opposition forces to defeat the BJP at the Centre.

“Strengthening the party and the Left forces is also required to lead the fight against the Hindutva agenda and the activities of communal forces. The party must work for a broad mobilisation of all secular forces against Hindutva communalism,” states the draft political resolution which awaits approval at the party congress.

While the central leadership of the party has no qualms about getting into an understanding with the Congress, the state unit has been opposed to the idea with Kerala being the only state where the CPI(M) enjoys power.

As the Congress is in a constant tussle with the CPI(M) in Kerala, especially on mega projects like K Rail, the semi-speed rail corridor, it may be hard for the ruling party to reach a consensus on allying with the Congress to defeat the BJP at the national level.

It was evident when Congress leaders were not allowed to participate in the seminars conducted by CPI(M) as part of the Party Congress.

“The political scenario in each state is different. The CPI(M) will take positions accordingly with the objective to align with secular forces fighting against the BJP,” MA Baby, politburo member and former state minister for education told The Federal.

Baby remarked that the role of Congress in mobilising non-BJP parties has become irrelevant now.

“Defeating the BJP is not their primary objective. If they had that objective, Rahul Gandhi would not have contested from Kerala. The media should stop asking the Left what their approach to Congress is. Instead, you should start asking the Congress what their approach to the Left is,” he asserted, adding that the Left in India is making more relevant contribution in fighting the RSS and the BJP rather than the Congress.

Making way for new blood

The Party Congress may also see the old generation of leaders making way for new faces into decision-making posts. Veterans including S Ramachandran Pillai, Biman Bose, Hannan Mollah, Vaikkom Viswan and P Karunakaran are expected to step down from the CC in adherence to the party’s decision to keep those who crossed 75 from the committees. However, 76-year-old Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan may be given an exemption. The same would also apply to national leader Brinda Karat who turns 75 this year. Sitaram Yechury, is also likely to get one more term to lead the party at the national front.

New faces including P Rajeev, the state Minister for Industries and KN Balagopal, the Minister for Finance are likely to be inducted to the CC.  However, some surprises also could be expected as the party went for an unconventional decision to include M Swaraj, former MLA and one of the most vibrant young voices in Kerala, into the State Secretariat.

A Vijayaraghavan, the LDF convenor who took the role of the state secretary when Kodiyeri Balakrishnan went on leave due to medical reasons, is also likely to be included into the Secretariat. However, sources within the party have hinted otherwise. They say, he is not a mass leader and often makes controversial statements, especially against the Muslim community, causing embarrassment to the party.

Former minister AK Balan too is likely to get a seat in the Secretariat based on his Dalit credentials.

Shifting stand on development

With Kerala being the only state where the party is in power, the state unit is set to have a stronger say at the Party Congress – it is believed Pinarayi Vijayan has an unchallenged voice despite many members from Bengal having doubts about his love for neo-liberal policies. The fundamental change adopted by the Kerala unit of the party in matters regarding development would certainly be a topic of debate among the delegates. The semi-high speed rail corridor –Silver Line; K Phone, the state-owned internet service network and the GAIL pipeline, which was successfully completed are among the mega projects, initiated by the government, that required land acquisition on a large scale. However, despite differences of several state units over the Kerala government’s developmental blueprint, it is highly unlikely for dissenting voices to come forward with Vijayan emerging as an “unquestioned voice” in the party.

The Party Congress would come to a close on March 10.

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