Left parties in Kerala reject Yechury's remark on merger as casual remark
The CPI and the CPI(M) feel that no such merger plans are being discussed by them
It seems that Sitaram Yechury’s thoughts on the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) do not have many takers in the CPI, or even his own party, the CPI(M) in Kerala. While senior leaders in the CPI(M) distanced themselves from the merger talk with silence, the middle-level leadership in the party downplayed the issue as a casual remark without much political weight.
On Monday, CPI(M) Politburo member Yechury had indicated on the sidelines of the Central Committee meeting of the party in Hyderabad that the merger talk between the CPI(M) and the CPI was back on the political agenda.
A CPI(M) Politburo member from Kerala Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was not ready to comment on the issue. “I am not aware of the issue and the context in which Yechury made the remarks,” he said.
VS Achuthanandan, who is the only surviving member among the 32 National Council members of the party who walked out of the CPI on April 11, 1964, to form the CPI(M) too refused to comment on the merger talk. The 88-year-old VS, as he is popularly knowns, now only a Central Committee member of the party maintained tactical silence on the issue. He was dropped from the Politburo after he refused to follow the official line of the party in the multi-crore SNC-Lavlin scam.
But, leaders in the CPI feel that the merger of the two parties would not materialise in the near future. “I’ve read [Yechury's comment]. I’m not sure whether the CPI(M) is serious about it or not. It depends more on them,” said Kanam Rajendran, general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress and CPI National Council member from Kerala. According to him, CPI general secretary AB Bardhan has taken some initiatives in this regard in the past, but a section of the CPI(M) was not interested in the merger.
The CPI National Council is meeting on June 18 and 19 in New Delhi to take stock of the political situation after the Assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal, where the Left Front was routed. “Certainly we will discuss the issue at the National Council meeting,” said Rajendran. He felt that the electoral disaster in West Bengal forced CPI(M) to rethink on the CPI-CPI(M) merger, which it never considered seriously earlier.
“Both parties have shared power and have joined organised protests. They also have common goals, but they have kept different political identities. It will be ideal if the CPI and the CPI(M) merge together to strengthen the unity of the working class,” he commented.
But, he pointed out that there are stumbling blocks on the road to the merger of two parties. “The merger of two parties will not happen within a day or a year. Somewhere we have to begin the process. So it’s a good sign that Yechury has initiated the process. Let’s wait and see,” said Rajendran.
A Vijayaraghavan, a CPI(M) Central Committee member, said the merger talk has a 'long way to go'. “We have not discussed the issue in our party committees. I’m not aware of the decision. At least as on now, the merger is not our top political priority,” the former member of the Rajya Sabha said. MA Baby, another Central Committee member of the CPI(M) from Kerala downplayed Yechury’s remarks. “Both the CPI and the CPI(M) are united under common policies and programmes. We share common political agenda and concerns. So there is more unity in the Left parties than there is in the ruling UPA combine. But, the merger of the CPI and the CPI(M) may not be a practical probability in the near future,” Baby commented. According to him, the issue is not in the political agenda of the CPI(M). “But, I don’t rule out the possibility of the merger of two parties in the future,” he said.
The CPI(M) claims that it has around one million party cadres in the country, whereas the CPI holds has a limited countrywide presence.
Jeemon Jacob is the Chief of Bureau (South) of Tehelka.