Kolkata, Dec 26 (IANS) Months before the crucial assembly polls in its erstwhile citadels West Bengal and Kerala, the CPI-M begins a five-day plenum here from Sunday to streamline and strengthen the party organisation against the backdrop of a “stagnation if not decline” in membership and depletion of its electoral strength.
The December 27-31 plenum, that begins with an open session at the sprawling Brigade Parade ground on Sunday, would also lay stress on deepening the party’s links with the masses and discuss ways to attract the youth, amid reports that majority of the party membership constitutes old people. Over 400 leaders would be attending the plenum.
“We are meeting in this plenum to strengthen our party organisation in the background of having noted in our party Congress our persistent weaknesses in terms of stagnation if not decline in the strength of our party and mass organisation membership, its uneven composition and a sharp decline in our party’s electoral strength,” said party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who took charge earlier this year.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist had held its previous plenum exactly 37 years back — December 27-31 — at Salkia in neighbouring Howrah district.
However, that plenum was held in a vastly different situation.
The first non-congress government formed by the Janata Party — with whom the CPI-M had good relations at the national level — had then assumed power at the centre after the Emergency days.
The CPI-M was also in the ascendancy as it led three state governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, and emerged as the strongest Left communist force in the country.
Thus a main point of discussion at the Salkia plenum was how to handle the growth — of the party and its mass organisations — and foray into new areas, especially what is called the Hindi heartland.
In contrast, the Kolkata plenum takes place at a time when the CPI-M has been voted out in West Bengal — where it led the Left Front government for 34 years at a stretch — and also Kerala, with Tripura being the only state under its rule.
The CPI-M’s strength is also at its lowest ebb, with a sharp reduction in its numbers in parliament and consequent incapability of playing any significant role at the national level, where its bitter opponent BJP is in power.
The coming plenum thus is expected to provide a roadmap for the coming electoral battles both at the national level as also in states like Kerala and West Bengal, which are set to go to the hustings in the first half of 2016.
Yechury admitted several goals thought of at Salkia have not been attained.
“We had taken many decisions in Salkia which we have not been able to achieve. That’s why this plenum has been convened in order to take the movement forward to attain much of that.”
Asked about the party’s incapability to penetrate the Hindi heartland, Yechury said the CPI-M needs to take up issues of social oppression along with those concerning economic exploitation.
He said the plenum would deliberate on ways to “deepen our links with the masses and make them stronger”.
Stating that the party has no future without the presence of youth, he said this issue will be discussed at the forthcoming plenum.
“But remember age also has to merge with experience. Don’t draw these rigid lines. Point is India is a country of youth. 70 percent of Indians are below the age of 40. Without youth nobody has a future… CPI-M also doesn’t have a future (without youth),” Yechury said.