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Soft Hindutva not answer to hardcore Hindutva, says CPM's Sitaram Yechury

The logical corollary of an ascendant Right wing is a growing space for the Left, according to Yechury

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi

  • Published 11.06.19, 5:58 AM
  • Updated 11.06.19, 5:58 AM
File picture of Sitaram Yechury at a news conference in New Delhi.
File picture of Sitaram Yechury at a news conference in New Delhi. Picture by Prem Singh

The Opposition lacked clarity in drawing the ideological battle line between “Hindutva and secularism” and, therefore, failed in forcefully projecting an alternative to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, according to the CPM.

Asserting this on Monday after the party’s Central Committee meeting to review the CPM’s worst performance in a general election, general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “The Opposition parties, the Congress in particular, failed to put in place the unity of secular Opposition parties that was being projected in the run-up to the elections. A campaign to safeguard secularism as against the communal offensive was not conducted. Soft Hindutva is not the answer for hardcore Hindutva.”

Despite the obituaries that have been written about the Left in India, Yechury asserted that far from being on the retreat, this is the time for the CPM to step up. The logical corollary of an ascendant Right wing is a growing space for the Left, according to Yechury.

“The new polarisation will be between the Left and the Right,” he said although there is still no clarity on how the Indian Left plans to fight back against the odds that are stacked up not just against the communists but the entire Opposition.

For now, the CPM has decided to go back to the decisions taken at the Party Plenum in Calcutta in 2015 to revamp the organisation. The decisions — which included more cohesion among politburo members, attracting young people to the party, inducting more Dalits into leadership roles and taking up issues of minorities — were not implemented as the party got preoccupied with the 2016 Assembly elections in Bengal and Kerala, the 2018 Party Congress and then the 17th Lok Sabha polls.

On what the central committee had to say about his own offer and that of Bengal secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra to resign, Yechury said it was of the collective view that resignation is not the answer. “It is the best escape route for the leader.” Instead, corrective measures are the need of the hour.

The party also does not see any flaw in its Bengal line where it projected both the BJP and Trinamul as twin evils although the election was to the Lok Sabha. Where the Opposition — the Congress and the CPM — failed was in pooling resources to capitalise on the high anti-incumbency against Trinamul.

“With the Congress refusing to accept the Left’s proposal to have an understanding in Bengal and also a no-mutual contest agreement against each other in the six sitting seats — four of the Congress and two of the CPM — the two parties were not seen as an alternative to Trinamul, resulting in the shift of a section of CPM’s traditional votes,” the central committee concluded.

What the results in Bengal also showed was that a “tacit understanding’” will not work in such an election. In fact, this was something that the Congress harped on in electoral adjustment discussions with the CPM, with Rahul Gandhi apparently telling Yechury that only people steeped in Left rhetoric understand such formulations.

Contrast this to Tamil Nadu where the CPM was part of the Secular Progressive Alliance forged by the DMK with the two Left parties, the Congress and some other smaller parties. The SPA’s campaign platforms used to have all constituent parties’ flags and there was cohesion in the alliance. as a result of which the CPM’s strike rate was cent per cent, winning the two seats it contested.

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