New Delhi, Oct. 2: The CPM politburo could not resolve differences over the party's relationship with the Congress today even as the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worked overtime for the fortnight-long Jan Raksha Yatra beginning in Kerala tomorrow against the Pinarayi Vijayan government.
The politburo has decided to refer the draft political resolution for the 22nd party congress - due to be held in Hyderabad in April - to the central committee, which meets later this month.
While there is general consensus on the need to remove the Narendra Modi government, differences persist on how to go about it, chief among them being having any form of electoral understanding with the Congress.
There are indications that an alternative document - listing the opinions of those who favour an electoral understanding with the Congress - could be sent to the central committee along with the official draft political resolution.
Politburo members insisted that not too much should be read into the differences within about the draft political resolution. "This is the way we run our party matters," said a member, refusing to engage with the perception that the hardline Kannur lobby, led by Kerala chief minister Vijayan and supported by former general secretary Prakash Karat, was pushing its line on the Bengal unit, which is more open to an electoral alliance. "There is discussion and debate over every issue and preparing these documents for the party congress is a six-month-long democratic exercise."
Karat himself appears to have shifted his position vis-à-vis the Modi government since September 2016, when he had publicly differed with the left liberal opinion that fascism had arrived in the country.
"In India today, Hindutva ideology and chauvinist nationalism are used to polarise the people on communal lines and to attack religious minorities. Brutal methods are used to suppress the religious minorities; dissent and secular intellectuals are sought to be put down by branding them 'anti-national.' From above, at the level of the institutions of the state, and from below, through the outfits of the Hindutva brigade, a determined effort is being made to reorder society and polity on Hindutva lines.
"While these activities pose a grave and present danger to democracy and secularism, they do not, by themselves, constitute the establishment of a fascist order," he had written in an article in The Indian Express on September 6, 2016.
But Karat recently moderated his position in a paper submitted for a seminar, organised by the Bengal state committee to commemorate the bi-centenary of Karl Marx, the 150th anniversary of the publication of Das Kapital, and the centenary of the November Revolution.
"In India today, the axis of the big bourgeoisie and the Hindutva communal forces has fueled the rightwing offensive.... The Modi regime and the fascistic type attacks on minorities and intellectuals are posing a serious threat to democracy and secularism. We have to adopt appropriate tactics to combine the fight against the neo-liberal policies and the struggle against the Hindutva forces," he had said.
He did not spell out the "appropriate tactics" but other Opposition parties are privately hoping the Left party would adopt a more pragmatic approach.
Vijayan, meanwhile, has hit back at RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for saying in his Vijaya Dashami speech on Saturday that the state governments of Kerala and Bengal were "lending a helping hand to the anti-national forces for petty political interests".
The Kerala chief minister demanded that Bhagwat clarify his statement and accused him of making such allegations because the RSS had failed to poison the minds of Malayalis.
"Dear Shri Bhagwat, you need not worry about Kerala & its people friendly secular-democratic government. We need no lessons from you or RSS. Let RSS concentrate on issues reported in media and social media regarding violence related to communal polarisation, cow vigilantism, atrocities against minorities, dalit and women in various BJP ruled states," Vijayan wrote in a Sunday night Facebook post.
With BJP chief Amit Shah set to launch the Jan Raksha Yatra tomorrow from Payyanur in Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram, the CPM is steeling itself for a media blitzkrieg in the coming days. Vijayan has already warned that his government would "deal strictly against any false propaganda by anyone whosoever, aiming to disturb the peaceful secular environment of Kerala".
One party leader, however, advocated caution, saying the RSS-BJP was looking for a fight. "They will try to provoke our workers," the leader said. "We should not play into their hands."