The Telegraph
Thursday , August 21 , 2014
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CPM panels for revival

New Delhi, Aug. 20: The CPM has set up four panels focused on different sections of society and tapped intellectuals as part of a “reorientation” drive after the Left’s worst-ever performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

The committees will study the transformation the sections have undergone after two decades of liberalisation and suggest new ways to connect with them.

The latest push stems from a realisation that the party’s existing slogans have lost appeal and that it needs to re-invent itself to keep pace with the changes.

The committees — one each on the middle class, youth and students, women and minorities, and the agrarian and working class — are headed by CPM leaders as convenors, with the intellectuals assigned the task of carrying out the actual studies on the various sections.

The panels’ reports will be discussed at the CPM Congress — the party’s top policy-making congregation held every three years — in Visakhapatnam in April next year.

“At present, some of our slogans and demands are not relevant or do not meet the aspirations of the sections or classes we wish to mobilise,” the party said in a recent review of the Lok Sabha poll rout.

The tally for the entire Left plumbed a historic low. “The CPI(M) has won nine seats…. This is the lowest number of seats got by the CPI(M) in a Lok Sabha election… As far as the Left parties are concerned, this is the worst-ever electoral performance,” the review stated.

The numbers were telling: the CPM contested 93 seats across the country and managed just 3.2 per cent of the votes and the combined Left 4.5 per cent.

The review report concluded that the party was unable to attract “new generation” voters, its “support and influence among the middle class had weakened” and, most important, there was “no advance among the core support base — working class, poor peasantry and agricultural workers”.

The review described the situation as grave and called for urgent corrective measures.

“Given the gravity of the situation, the (CPM) central committee should implement the above four steps so that corrective measures and fresh initiatives are taken,” the report stated.

The “reorientation” push is not the first such measure, though, and follows “reviews” and “rectification” drives of the past, none of which checked the downslide.

CPM leaders insisted, however, that the current move is different from exercises undertaken in the past.

“This time, you will see a significant shift in our approach. We could turn ultra-Left or become a very moderate one,” said a senior CPM leader.