The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal forces Citu rethink

New Delhi, Oct. 8: The CPM politburo will meet in Calcutta this week to discuss the current political situation and put final touches to the party’s trade union document.

The document would be adopted by the party’s central committee after the politburo gives its approval.

At the party’s last central committee meeting, the leadership discussed the document, which seeks to re-define the role of trade unions in the changed economic scenario.

According to Citu general secretary and CPM politburo member M.K. Pandhe, the Citu will have to re-examine its role in the new situation, which has undergone a sea-change.

Although CPM leaders are tight-lipped about the document’s contents, it is believed a re-orientation of the trade union will help pro-changers in the CPM leadership in Bengal, who would like the Citu to shed its dogma and be more in tune with the overall economic changes that have taken place.

Over the last two decades, Citu has been forced to change some of its slogans, though the change has been slow in coming. There was a time when the trade union was tooth and nail opposed to computerisation and investment by private and foreign companies.

With time, it adapted itself and changed its slogans. Citu runs a computerised office today and is ready to accept private and foreign investment in sectors that need higher technology.

Even with regard to changes in Bengal, Citu has come to accept many policies that would have led to a furore earlier.

Pandhe says Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has a difficult job on hand and the CPM, being the ruling party in the state, has compulsions of governance. Therefore, it cannot take a line similar to that of Citu.

It is possible that the new document, instead of being black and white on controversial liberalisation policies, will reflect some of the dilemmas the Citu is facing. On the one hand, the trade union has to keep its constituency intact so that the workers do not feel that the union leadership is betraying them. On the other, it has to reformulate its slogans and strategies — particularly in a place like Bengal where trade union aggression is a deterrent to investment in the state.

Although a section of the Citu is insisting that it is not changing its strategy and tactic, it is evident that in the CPM Leadership, particularly in Bengal, there is a growing feeling that the trade union should change some of its strategies and tactics.

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