Grand plans to create a political third alternative at the national level have been quietly dropped by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as it gets ready to finalise the contours of a road map to reclaim the space in areas where it is strong and expand its footprint elsewhere.
For the first time in over a decade, the CPI(M) congress that opens here on Wednesday will focus its attention and energies on redefining the party's political approach with the primary aim of regaining its strength and work towards Left unity as well as a Left and democratic alternative.
Since 1998, the party has been in the forefront of marshalling political parties that did not ally with either the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party. But successive experiments, starting from the People's Front to the third alternative ahead of the 2009 general elections, did not yield the desired results.
Realising that far too much energy has been spent in trying to build an alternative political platform, including those on common ideas and interests, the party will deliberate on the Left and democratic alternative as the real option to the current set of policies.
The subtle shift in the party's political line finds place in the draft political resolution that underscores how the Left and democratic alternative could emerge.
“We have to conduct struggles for land, food, employment and social justice. The CPI(M) has to counter the forces of communalism and divisiveness and defend secularism. We have to combat the imperialist pressures in all spheres,” it states.
General secretary Prakash Karat told The Hindu that the party would redefine its twin approach — strengthening the party and working for Left unity while moving towards achieving a Left and democratic alternative, which is clearly not an association of parties coming together ahead of elections. It has abandoned the idea of building a third alternative on the basis of an agreed programme.
Aware that regional parties will continue to have a place on the national political landscape, the CPI(M) will discuss how the party and the Left can have joint action on issues concerning people, federalism and secularism, while carrying on with cooperation with non-Congress, non-BJP parties in Parliament.
“Right now we are not thinking of a programme-based alternative but possible joint action and joint movements,” Mr. Karat said.
This follows the party's assessment that realignment would take shape as the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance has “started fraying” and the BJP-led National Democratic Alternative is “not in good shape.”
Besides providing the major thrust to strengthen itself to recapture its strongest bases in West Bengal and Kerala, the party will seek to expand its base and political influence in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.