Karat beats Karat's drum, glosses over rare dissent
Kozhikode, April 6: Few know "My Party" better than Brinda Karat and so it fell upon her to declare the final victory of the "Prakash Karat line" and play down a two-delegate dissent in an organisation that weeds out potential naysayers way down the chain.
"Contrary to reports about divisions in the party over withdrawal of support to UPA-I, this party congress puts to rest all speculation in this regard. The party has unitedly supported the line taken by the central committee vis-a-vis the withdrawal of support," a beaming Brinda told a media conference today.
That the "Karat line" — the phrase comrades use when they refer to the withdrawal of support to UPA-I — would pass the party congress test was never in doubt, although several Bengal leaders mentioned the heavy price the CPM had to pay for it. ( )
However, what stood out was the rare show of dissent by two delegates who raised their hands when the congress was about to rubber-stamp the political review report, which deals with the tactics and policies the CPM adopted between the last session in 2008 and now, and the political resolution.
The names of the two delegates at the closed session were not disclosed but it is learnt that they are from Andhra Pradesh.
"How can you call it dissent when only two out of 789 delegates raise their hands to vote against the resolutions? I don't know what prompted them to raise their hands," Brinda, a politburo member, said in response to a question.
The numerical significance is actually even lower than what Brinda has flagged. The total strength is 804, not 789, which makes the two delegates all the more minuscule.
But figures need not always mirror the facts. In a party congress, rarely does any delegate raise a hand of dissent — not because of the absence of diverse views but the organisation machinery has perfected the art of filtering out such suspects at the branch level itself.
Delegates for the party congress are carefully chosen by the state leadership. Not many can pass through the sieve of scrutiny if they harbour irrepressible habits like raising hands at inappropriate moments.
When the political review was taken up, one delegate suggested an amendment, asking the CPM not to go for any alliance with regional parties, sources said. Needless to say the amendment was defeated by a massive majority as none other than the Andhra delegate who moved it voted in its favour.
The amendment, however, holds some significance in the context of the embarrassment the party had suffered in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when Prakash Karat's much-hyped third front aimed at defeating the Congress fell flat.
On this count, too, Brinda claimed victory for the central line. "The review report adopted by the party congress holds the decision to align with the regional parties was a correct one. We ourselves have accepted the mistake on the count of overestimating that the alliance would form the government," she said.
Later, when it was time to adopt the political review report and the resolution, the delegate who moved the amendment and another from Andhra raised their hands to show disagreement.
Although the amendment was steamrollered, the "audacity" of the two comrades became a talking point among the other delegates. "It requires courage to vote against a party line backed by the majority. It rarely happens in a communist party," said a central committee member.
Officially, since the party congress is the highest decision-making body in the CPM, the adoption of the two reports puts to rest any criticism of the leadership over withdrawal of support to UPA-I.
Asked whether the pullout was a closed chapter for the party, Brinda replied: "History cannot be a closed chapter. But so far as my party was concerned, it was a closed chapter."
She could not resist a dig at the media for repeatedly raising the issue. "It is for the media to decide whether it is a closed chapter for them," Brinda added.
The politburo member kept referring to the CPM as "My Party" — a pronoun popular with her husband, too, though communist veterans usually shun individual references and stick to the more collective "Our Party".
"My party has unitedly supported the line to fight the neo-liberal policies of the Congress and the communal BJP," Brinda said at one point.
The media briefing today was scheduled to be addressed by politburo member Sitaram Yechury. But Brinda stood in, officially because Yechury was busy with the ideological document he had to present half an hour later.
Brinda's right to address the media cannot be grudged in any case — all the more so because resolutions on some of the issues she champions, such as rights of women and scheduled castes and tribes, were also adopted today.
However, in a party where rituals are sometimes the only clues to riddles, no step, howsoever trivial it may appear to the uninitiated, will pass unnoticed.