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CPM looks back with regret

Kozhikode, April 5: CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today rued that the Left had to support UPA I, which he said “legitimised” the Congress, as the poll-battered Marxists again betrayed signs of their inability to put the past behind and move on.

“Support to UPA I was correct and necessary since we had gone to the Lok Sabha elections on the plank of a secular government. Our support, however, legitimised the Congress. But that cannot be helped,” Karat said, asked if the party now felt the decision was wrong.

The question popped up as the CPM party congress has for the past two days been reviewing all decisions the party has taken since the last congress at Coimbatore in 2008.

Sources said today’s meeting saw an aggressive speech from former Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta on the political line followed by the central leadership over the past four years.

A meeting of the extended central committee at Vijayawada had in August 2010 discussed the decision to withdraw support to UPA I over the US nuclear deal and a meeting at Hyderabad in June 2011 had reviewed the Bengal election rout.

Party leaders, however, justified the ongoing review, saying it was a communist party’s way of learning from the past, but made it clear no surprises should be expected.

“We supported the Congress for (the sake of) secularism. Now we will oppose the Congress for its neo-liberal economic policies. We can never go with the BJP…. So now it is ekla chalo,” a central committee member explained. Karat made it clear that under him the party would have no truck with the Congress. “The draft political resolution has set out the tasks of fighting the neo-liberal policies and communal forces. This requires the defeat of the Congress and the BJP,” he said.

The general secretary looked forward to the party congress’s next task of finalising an ideological document. He said 3,713 amendments and 487 suggestions had been received to the draft political resolution but sounded relieved that none had sought any significant change in the political line the leadership had drafted.

“One hundred and sixty-three amendments have been accepted, 77 of them are technical in nature. The rest help to improve some formulations. None of them seeks to deviate from the main line of the party,” he said.

Asked about industrialisation and takeover of land, Karat said the party would “strongly oppose any forcible land acquisition. The party has to conduct sustained struggles of the people.”

The only change he talked about was fixing a term for office-bearers, including the general secretary. Asked what had prompted such a move, he flagged it as an example of the party not being averse to “change”.

“It is to bring about change and renewal. We are a party of 10 lakh members now and so there is no dearth of good leaders,” he said. The congress is scheduled to amend the party constitution to fix a maximum of three terms for all office-bearers.

“A decade is enough,” Karat, who is serving his second term, said, pointing out that three terms meant nine years.