New Delhi, July 6: The CPM’s branch in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the political cradle of general secretary Prakash Karat, is threatening to “wither away”.
At least 11 of the 15 party members in the JNU unit are learnt to have “resigned” in protest against the leadership’s decision to support Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for President.
Some sources said the university unit had 17 members. Since resignations are not accepted in the CPM, the party is now planning to dissolve the branch and reconstitute it.
The JNU branch of the CPM’s student wing, the SFI, too has passed a resolution slamming the decision to support the Congress leader.
The upheaval in the varsity reflects the conflicting pulls and pressures Karat is trying to address so that the interests of the mother ship in Bengal can be protected without blunting, as much as possible, the anti-Congressism on which units elsewhere survive.
Karat was one of the founder members of the SFI in JNU and was elected the student’s union president.
Some of the CPM members who are also part of the SFI have not resigned from the student outfit, pointing out that the wing works independently of the party.
“The largest force within the Left, the CPI(M), has decided to extend support to Pranab Mukherjee. After due consideration, the SFI JNU unit finds the CPI(M) stand to be unconvincing and not in the best interest of the Left and democratic movement,” a release from the SFI’s JNU unit said.
The statement added that the resolution was passed at a general body meeting of the SFI last evening with 37 members voting in favour, two opposing the resolution and seven abstaining.
The development is believed to be a fallout of the “resignation” and subsequent expulsion of SFI leader Prasenjit Bose from the CPM after he protested against the decision to support the UPA’s presidential candidate.
Karat recently held a meeting with the SFI members of JNU and tried to convince them about the tactical and political reasons behind the party’s support to Mukherjee. He also wrote a long article in the party mouthpiece, acknowledging the need to safeguard the interests of the unit in Bengal where the Trinamul Congress, not the Congress, is the principal enemy.
The SFI resolution suggested that the message had still not sunk in. The resolution held Mukherjee responsible for “implementing neo-liberal policies and cementing the strategic alliance with the US imperialism” and wondered why the CPM had supported him when there was no threat of a BJP nominee getting elected.
“In a context where there is no threat of a BJP nominee getting elected to the highest constitutional position, supporting UPA’s candidate cannot be justified. The decision to abstain taken by other Left parties would have been appropriate in the given situation,” the resolution said.
Karat’s article had explained that the party should try to exploit divisions within the ruling coalition and that the presidential election had thrown up an opportunity to do so.
The SFI resolution also suggested that it was looking for self-preservation in a university known for anti-Congressism. The students’ organisation sought to distance itself from the CPM’s decision to support Mukherjee by pointing out that Clause 2.13 of the SFI’s programme stated that it was an independent body of student’s and “not a political party”.