Leadership of Opposition front taken by surprise

When it was formed way back in 1979-80 in the aftermath of Emergency, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) were the parties that sacrificed much to make the Left Democratic Front (LDF) a reality. If CPI leader P.K. Vasudevan Nair quit office bringing down the government that he headed after A.K. Antony resigned over Indira Gandhi’s controversial candidature at Chickamagalur, the RSP lost its berth in the Cabinet. But what they created through sacrifice appears to be tottering with the RSP almost at the alliance’s exit point.

The core of the LDF was intact even after the Kerala Congress(J) and the M.P. Veerendrakumar faction of the then Janata Dal (Secular) chose to walk out of the alliance, both as badly scarred as the RSP now.

Weakened force

But it is a different story with the RSP, though the party’s current plight is in a way largely its own making. Over the years, the party that was once a force to reckon with, particularly in south Kerala, had become emaciated, thanks to a series of splits and mutual bickering among senior leaders. As the RSP got weakened, it befell the CPI(M) to redeem their candidates in many election. The inevitable followed when the CPI(M) decided to take away many key seats that the RSP used to contest.

It is not that the RSP leadership did not offer resistance. When he was the State secretary of the party, RSP’s current national general secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan had put up a strong fight against the CPI(M) leadership over denial of what he considered his party’s rightful share of the electoral spoils. His fight mostly went in vain because he received little support from his party colleagues. The party has now decided to leave the alliance and, perhaps, move to the rival camp. But this is easier said than done.

The State leadership would have to get its decision endorsed by the RSP Central committee. When the RSP State secretariat and State committee began discussing the issue on Saturday morning, Mr. Chandrachoodan was careful not to be seen as endorsing it.

The LDF leadership was obviously taken by surprise by the pace of developments. Leaders of both the CPI(M) and the CPI did try to avert RSP’s exit from the LDF, most prominent among them being Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and CPI State secretary Pannian Ravindran. Mr. Ravindran called on the RSP leaders just before the party State committee meeting began and urged them not to go ahead with their decision to leave the Opposition alliance, but without any effect.

The LDF leadership is still engaged in a bid to reach out to the RSP leadership. The RSP is likely to reconsider its decision only if the pull from the national Left argument proves more compelling than the current predicament of the party.

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