The party has expanded in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday underlined that electoral setbacks were but one of the parameters that should be taken into account to assess the growth of the organisation, saying that its membership had risen.

The 20th party congress, now in session here, was informed through the draft political-organisation report that there was an increase in the membership, even while the strength of mass organisations declined owing to the “difficult situation” in West Bengal. It also reported some expansion in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

“We have reviewed the implementation of the task set out at the last party congress and assessed how we have progressed, identified [the] weaknesses and [set] future tasks,” Polit Bureau member S. Ramachandran Pillai, who moved the resolution, said at a media briefing.

Asked how the party sought to rectify the mistakes and whether action would be taken against individuals, he said that while decisions were taken collectively, the assessment of the work done by individuals was also made together.

“We review responsibility and take a collective decision, and depending on the gravity of the situation and assessment, we also take disciplinary action,” Mr. Pillai said, without explaining whether it was in the context of the recent electoral setbacks or the larger organisational framework.

Answering a question on the issue of withdrawal of the party's support to the Congress-led UPA government in July 2008, three months after the last congress, Mr. Pillai described as “collective mistake” the assessment that the government would not go ahead with the India-U.S. nuclear deal. “We are learning lessons…In a fast-changing situation, assessments can go wrong.”

The congress endorsed the decision, including the Central Committee's assessment that the party should have withdrawn support as soon as the government moved the International Atomic Energy Agency for obtaining clearance.

No third alternative

Mr. Pillai reiterated that the while the party would not try to create a third political alternative at the national level on a common programme, it was open to the idea of having electoral adjustment with regional parties, depending on the situation. This was not to be confused with the larger objective of forming a left and democratic alliance to counter the policies of the coalitions led by the Congress and the BJP.

The congress adopted the resolution on some ideological issues with near unanimity. While one member opposed it, three abstained.

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