CPM admits it's plagued by desertion
1 Apr 2008, 0307 hrs IST,Akshaya Mukul,TNN
ANIL BISWAS NAGAR (COIMBATORE): CPM's two-part political organization report is a clear admission that despite its rising clout, the party is plagued by increasing dropouts, especially in Kerala, erosion of traditional communist value system and problems in getting whole-timers.
The newly-introduced section on the experience of Left-ruled states, for the first time, spells out two different principles of governance for West Bengal and Kerala. Though the document criticizes handling of Nandigram by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, it still approves of industrialization in the state but with a cautious approach on land acquisition and incentives to business houses. Also, it wants the state government to tell the people that such investments would not solve the basic problem. However, the party suggests that Kerala should stress on agriculture and strengthen public sector enterprises.
The comprehensive report, accessed by TOI, also admits that party membership among minorities has come down by 10.22%. In West Bengal, there is a marginal decline in membership from 14.9% in 2005 to 14.6%. Membership of women is 11.93% but the report asks state committees of eight states — UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, J&K, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — with less than 10% women members to take appropriate action to increase their presence in the party. For instance, Bihar has only 3.65% women members, Chhattisgarh 7.66% and UP 8.88%.
The document seeks to enforce stricter guidelines for whole-timers and a more stringent method of giving out memberships. "It is the quality of party members that reflected in Nandigram. Lately, the quality of members has come down. There is no point increasing the membership tally without ensuring quality," a senior leader from West Bengal said.
The document also deals with growing factionalism in the party, especially in Kerala, and attributes it to reasons like inability of cadres and senior leadership to settle grievances within established party forums. The tendency to speak to media out of turn has been criticized.
The party congress is likely to reinforce a well-laid principle of discipline for cadre in general and senior leadership in particular. Nandigram has become a reference point in the document, as the party admits what happened there has become a "weapon in anti-CPM propaganda".
Therefore, the document says the state government should take into consideration all concerns and then adopt a suitable policy.
In an indirect way, the document admits that taking two different lines in Delhi and Kolkata would not help. Instead, the state government should be conscious that its policy could have an impact on the party line throughout the country.
When it comes to specifics, the document says largescale land acquisition should not be resorted to and again refers to the Nandigram experience and "political and administrative mistakes" made by the state government. Also, it says private investors should not be loaded with too many concessions.
On dropouts, the document says the national average is 7.5% in case of whole-timers. Interestingly, in West Bengal, the dropout rate is merely 3.5% but in Kerala, where there is a five-yearly cycle of Congress and Left rule, more than 10% dropout has been noticed. Tamil Nadu has a dropout rate of more than 16%. In states where the party has meagre presence, the drop-out rate is shocking.
"Kerala should learn from West Bengal. Despite more than 30 years in power, Bengal comrades have never made a public display of their grievances. High dropout rate means largescale factionalism, like what we are facing in Kerala," a senior leader said.
But the document is clear that there will be no dilution in norms for whole-timers.