Saturday, January 26, 2008

CPM facing a crisis of ideology?

Uday Basu
KOLKATA, Jan. 14: On the first day of the CPI-M's four-day-long state conference today, the party's top leadership tried to grapple with the self-contradictions in its ideological and tactical positions that have come to the fore in recent times.
The leaders were at pains explaining to about 900 delegates and special invitees the party’s shift in embracing capitalism as an inevitable course left to the governments run by it for industrialisation and creation of jobs, especially for the skilled and semi-skilled workers.
The conference had a brain-storming session over how party activists would address the rural population during the run-up to the panchayat poll slated a few months away since the self-contradictions in the party's theory and practice stand glaringly exposed in the rural belt. The CPI-M's main vote bank ~ the rural areas ~ is under threat in the wake of the party's policy of industrialisation through farm land acquisition.
The conference is laying maximum stress on this issue as the party has become unnerved by the way the Opposition has, so far, succeeded in exploiting to the hilt the widespread resentment of the rural population against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-government's aggressive and Stalinist way of forcing poor villagers to accept its industrialisation programme.
The party activists are awaiting the outcome of the conference with baited breath. They are now a totally confused lot as the mode of industrialisation that the CPI-M is championing runs counter to its age-old struggle for upholding the poor farmers’ right to own and till land. Their problem is compounded by the fact that they would have to go to the people in the next few months for votes for controlling the panchayats. It's an uphill task since they would have to face millions of villagers in 3,220 gram panchayats with about 58,000 seats.
This explains why the conference debated during the day a special resolution on “Left Front government, panchayats, municipalities and our task.”
The leadership has, however, no other option than to give an ideological underpinning to its policy shift in embracing capitalism which it has since its inception denounced. But the task has put the top leaders in an unenviable position as they would have to defend the indefensible.
The dilemma is clear from Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's vacillation over whether he should glorify the Marxists’ dirty word, capitalism. Aware that he can't gloss it over, he toned down his earlier strident pitch for capitalism and said his only interest is in capital and not the capitalist approach to build the society.