Centralisation of powers, erosion of party base, rise of RSS: CPI(M) dissects poll debacle in Kerala

A significant point of contention during the meeting, as per sources, has been the functioning of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jun 19, 2024 | 3:00 PM Updated Jun 19, 2024 | 3:00 PM

CPI (M) flags at a rally in Kerala

The CPI(M) in Kerala is currently holding a five-day meeting even as party cadres anticipate strategic decisions from the top leadership.

With local body elections approaching, the party is under pressure to rejuvenate its rank and file and address the reasons behind its setback in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

The state secretariat’s two-day session has just concluded, paving the way for a three-day state committee meeting.

Discussions have been centered around a thorough analysis of the party’s poor performance in the recent elections, particularly in areas traditionally considered CPI(M) strongholds.

Also read: Kerala outrage over CPI(M) honouring bomb-makers with memorial

Pinarayi in the line of fire?

A significant point of contention during the meeting, as per sources, has been the functioning of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government.

Some leaders raised the issue of growing sentiment among the populace that the government, starting with the chief minister, has become increasingly inaccessible.

This perceived disconnect between the leadership and the grassroots is believed to have contributed to voter disillusionment and subsequent erosion of the party’s support base.

Another area that the meeting discussed was the excessive prioritisation of religious leaders, certain minor parties, and the unchecked influence of social media groups which might have played a role in alienating traditional voters.

The failure to effectively address the everyday issues of the people has emerged as a key theme in the discussions, reflecting a broader dissatisfaction within the party ranks.

Also Read: Kerala woman puts Vijayan government in dock for failing to provide pension

The party lost control over government

A crucial aspect discussed in the meeting is the perception that the party leadership has lost control over the state government, with Vijayan emerging as the dominant figure without sufficient checks and balances, sources said.

This centralisation of power has raised concerns among the cadres, as it may have contributed to the party’s inability to respond effectively to grassroots issues.

A lack of a collective decision-making process and the overshadowing influence of the chief minister are seen as factors that need to be addressed to restore internal party democracy and improve governance.

It is also learnt that the party leadership’s failure to understand the inroads being made by BJP/RSS in the state, corruption, mounting dues to pensioners, beneficiaries of various social schemes, and others, police high-handedness, some leaders’ including those at the lower ranks arrogance and others were also discussed.

“For the CPI(M) to regain momentum ahead of the imminent local body polls, it is imperative that the leadership not only implements meaningful changes but also provides a clear and compelling explanation for the recent setbacks. This would help restore confidence among party workers and the general electorate,” a senior leader told South First.

At the same time, a local committee member opined that all eyes are on the decisions and strategies that will emerge from these deliberations.

“The grassroots-level cadres are hoping for a revitalised approach that can reinvigorate the party and improve its standing among the electorate. Our take is that the outcomes of these meetings will likely shape the party’s trajectory in the upcoming elections that include the local body and Assembly polls,” the member said.

Also Read: Left rattled by allegations of CPI(M) veteran’s plans to join BJP

Hinting at possible changes

Hinting at the possible outcome of the meeting, CPI(M) Kerala state secretary MV Govindan publicly acknowledged LDF’s defeat while addressing a national seminar, EMS Smrithi 2024, in Thrissur on 13 June.

“We were defeated. That’s the reality. There is no point in saying that we won when the reality is that we were defeated. Now, we will have to analyze why we were defeated. A comprehensive analysis will be made. We will examine our mistakes and we will rectify them,” Govindan stated.

He attributed some of the setbacks to the state government’s inability to disburse financial assistance due to fiscal constraints imposed by the central government.

“But those who were affected, 62 lakh pensioners, cashew workers, handloom workers, Anganwadi/ASHA workers, and others might not consider this. They were unhappy and this might have reflected in the votes also,” he explained.

Govindan also suggested that complacency and negative tendencies might have developed within the party during its second consecutive term in power.

“This might have trickled down to the party cadre. If we want to come back strongly, we will have to sweep away these tendencies. Maybe the leadership will also have to change. The party will take all these into consideration while examining the defeat,” he added.

Some senior leaders said that the party secretary’s statement captured the general sentiment within the party and underscores the agenda of the ongoing meeting.

“Even LDF constituents like CPI, JD (S) Kerala faction and others had echoed this sentiment. Hope the party leadership will take these into consideration also,” a branch committee member said.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).

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