The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM walks Citu tightrope

New Delhi, Nov. 22: The CPM leadership is walking a tightrope while updating its document on the Citu after two decades.

The central committee, currently in session in Delhi, will put its official stamp of approval on the document already approved by the politburo.

Citu general secretary and politburo member M.K. Pandhe said: “There is no question of giving up militancy.” Politburo member Sitaram Yechury added: “The draft is only dealing with organisational questions — how to strengthen the Citu.”

Central committee member M.A. Baby from Kerala said: “Since globalisation, the whole scenario has changed. We have to think of how to expand our base and involve new sections in the trade union movement. We also have to look into the inadequacies of the trade union movement.”

Though a section in the CPM, particularly in Bengal, believes that the Citu must adapt itself to change and not practise trade unionism of the sixties and the seventies, there are some hardliners who would not want the new document to reflect this. But there is no doubt that with globalisation and shrinking of jobs, the CPM and the Citu will have to rework their strategies.

The dichotomy, according to some, lies in the fact that the Citu would like to follow one set of policies in Bengal and another in the rest of India.

The Citu general secretary has conceded that the compulsions of running a government in Bengal put certain responsibilities on the party and its trade union.

Though he did not elaborate the responsibilities, there is a veiled suggestion that the Citu, while defending workers’ interests, cannot put hurdles in the way of economic rejuvenation.

This, however, does not mean that the Citu will hold itself back in states ruled by parties other than the Left — which virtually leaves the entire country at its disposal. The debate over moulding the Citu in a new role, which has been growing in Bengal, has not struck root in Kerala, the other Left bastion.

The issues raised in the document will relate to the Citu’s sluggish growth outside the Left bastions — its failure to roll back basic liberalisation policies.

One thing it has been able to stall is the government’s policy to bring in a ‘hire and fire’ system. This has, however, been possible because of the Congress’ refusal to back the policy.

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