Visualising a political vacuum at the national level, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday predicted that Left and democratic forces would occupy that void being created by the collapse of the coalitions led by the Congress and the BJP.

“The recent political developments showed the failure of the two combinations — the UPA [the United Progressive Alliance] and the NDA [the National Democratic Alliance] — to consolidate. The [outcome of the] Assembly elections in the five States have reflected this trend. … As… the bankruptcy and venality of the present order becomes [more] apparent, the people are looking for an alternative... [and it] can be provided only by the Left and democratic forces,” CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said in the inaugural address at its 20th Party Congress here.

The Congress and the BJP were pursuing neo-liberalism and indulging in a loot of natural resources. There was little to choose between them when it came to corruption, supporting an effective Lokpal Bill to curb graft among public servants. The CPI(M) would bring in a whole range of measures, including electoral reforms, to curb money power in politics, he said.

Hindutva forces were pursuing an agenda that was inimical to the secular-democratic systems and values, and the minorities were facing constant attacks and suppression of rights in the States where the BJP ruled, he said.

Having quietly buried the idea of a third front, the party is clear that an alternative Left and democratic platform will come up in stages: strengthening of the party; expansion of its base and influence across the country; working towards Left unity; and finally rallying other democratic forces.

The shift in political approach should be seen in light of the severe setbacks the CPI (M) and other Left parties suffered in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and in the West Bengal and Kerala Assembly polls.

The loss of the ‘Red Fort' in the two States was symbolically made up by panels resembling the walls of the Mughal fort in New Delhi, which formed the backdrop of the stage and the entry to the venue, ‘Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu Nagar.'

The two veteran Marxists died since the last party Congress was held in Coimbatore. The former West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was conspicuous by his absence.

Referring to the electoral losses, Mr. Karat said the party identified the shortcomings and weaknesses in the political and organisational set-ups and took steps to correct them. The party, which had a mass base in West Bengal, would counter the violence unleashed against its workers and supporters.

As for the ideological clarity the Party Congress is expected to provide, he said: “The CPI(M) has always believed in applying Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of India, to chalk out its revolutionary path. We have never tried to emulate models abroad. We have to constantly update our ideological understanding and equip ourselves to meet the challenges of the contemporary era.”

Over the next five days, the party would discuss the political, ideological and organisation issues, including an amendment to its constitution to set a three-term limit for members occupying the post of secretary, be at the local committees or at the Central Committee.

More In: National | News | States