Serious soul-searching for the party as 20th Party Congress begins in Kozhikode tomorrow

With the Left currently finding itself in no position to influence the course of events at the national level despite the political situation in the country turning increasingly fluid, the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of India(Marxist) [CPI(M)] beginning in Kozhikode on Wednesday is apt to become an occasion for some serious soul-searching by the party.

If it is the electoral reverses that the Left has suffered in Bengal and Kerala that have necessitated a self-critical appraisal of the events of the past few years, the changes that have come about in the global economic order and the new characteristics that socialist ‘models' of the past have come to acquire in recent times make it imperative for the party to anchor itself on a new ideological framework that reflects contemporary global reality.

Thus, though public attention as the party congress gets under way might well be on who makes it to the Polit Bureau and who loses out, the challenges before the party organisationally are two: that of bringing some clarity to its ideological positions and finding ways to reclaim the national political space that it has lost as things stand today.

The twin challenges are sought to be met through the political resolution and the document on ideological questions, which should consume a fair amount of time of the 734 delegates, 70 observers, and 11 veterans who attend the party congress.While a reappraisal of the political context of the immediate past and present is a regular feature of all party congresses, the far more serious exercise of looking at the ideological underpinnings of the party is something rare.

When CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan says that the Kozhikode meet will be historic, the attempt perhaps is to draw attention to the latter part of the work sought to be undertaken by the party congress. The draft of the document on ideology is already in the public domain and party leaders have on record said that the CPI(M) is contemplating an ‘Indian' model of socialism, a statement that has raised more questions than answers.

On issues of national and Left politics and the persistent organisational woes, a few answers should be available at the end of the meet. The CPI(M) attempt to nuance its anti-Congress, anti-BJP politics by emphasising more on the idea of a Left and Democratic Alternative than the tried and failed Third alternative has been an interesting development in recent times. But whether the party sticks to that position is something that will be interesting to watch. Not to speak of the way it decides to address questions in Kerala and Bengal.

More In: Kerala | National