Kerala has steadfastly held on to the norm of alternating governments after five years. And this time the beneficiaries are communists. They are back in power after a gap of five years. But the mood in AKG Bhavan, the CPI(M) central committee office in New Delhi must be subdued, if not sombre.
In West Bengal, where the party ruled for more than three decades, the CPI(M) is relegated to third position that too despite a political understanding with Congress. Trinamool Congress has bettered their tally from their 2011 outing.
The severe drubbing comes at a time when there are reports that the top leaders of the CPI(M) are divided on various political issues. When the West Bengal unit of the party suggested an understanding with Congress to fight what they called ‘Mamata tyranny,’ there were many in the central committee who opposed the move, especially members from the powerful Kerala unit.
But in the end, Sitaram Yechury, who had got big support from the Bengal unit in his fight for the post of general secretary, played a crucial role in prevailing upon the central committee to go in for an understanding with Congress. It was explained as pragmatic line which will help the party in the long run. But as it turned out, it has come as a cropper .
Now this tactics has failed. Failed miserably. Now what will be in store for Yechury?
Politburo member Brinda Karat answered this, when she was asked what caused such a miserable drubbing in Bengal. She was candid enough, during a debate in a TV channel, that the CPI(M) will ascertain whether the alliance with the Congress caused the party dearly. That means the political line adopted by the general secretary has failed. And going by the communist parties standards, he may have a lot of answering to do.
Brinda Karat is reported to belong to the anti-Yechury camp in the party. At a time when the party is facing a huge identity crisis at national level there is a possibility that the party may be embroiled in ‘inner party’ struggles.
It was in the last party congress held in Vishakapattanam, that CPI(M) decided not to have political alliances for conveniences.
The clout the Bengal unit had with the central leadership will diminish now with this rout. And it will definitely weaken the position of Yechury. On various occasions the position he took on the inner party issues in Kerala has pitched Yechury against the powerful section of the Kerala unit of the CPI(M). His support to veteran leader V S Achuthanandan has antogonised the Pinaryai Vijayan faction, the dominant faction with in the party now.
In the ensuing crisis what will CPI(M) do to make it politically relevant?
Victory in Kerala is a solace for the supporters not only of the left movement but also those who oppose the neo-liberal developmental model being pursued by successive governments at the centre.
With an antagonistic government at the centre, how far Kerala will able to pursue an alternative model of governance remains to be seen. Not only that, even some powerful leaders in the CPI(M) seems to subscribe the neo liberal ideas on development.
If the party has now decided not to have any truck with bourgeois party does it stand any chance of making it a political force to reckon with? Traditional communist wisdom says that non- parliamentary activities is more important for a Marxist party than winning elections.
But what makes CPI(M) position more vulnerable is that in recent past it has not been able to undertake any big movement which has captured the imagination of the youth. If the CPI(M) decide not to have any truck with any parties, then it will be very difficult for the party to stay in the mainstream.
But going by the recent history, the party leaders are more interested to settle scores with each other than drawing a more pragmatic political line.