The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is planning to get a facelift starting with its plenum in Kolkata from 27 to 31 December 2015. A series of changes are on the cards in the party’s policy to appeal to the youth and its shrinking support base, keeping in mind the fact that elections in West Bengal and Kerala are scheduled to be held next year. The CPM is shifting its ideological moorings from the “extreme” left to what is known as “centre” left. In the process, the party is likely to shed its aversion to economic reforms, in a manner that puts it closer to pro market economy reformer Deng Xiaoping and away from ideological mentor Mao Zedong. As a senior leader and CPM MP said: “The party has always been reform oriented and we are a progressive party. We keep thinking of ways to become better.” However he did not disclose what exactly the party’s revival strategy is.
The plenum will see a gathering of 436 delegates to brainstorm on the party’s organisation and policies. The plenum, which is scheduled to begin with a huge rally, will have as its primary aim revival in West Bengal, where it was in power for almost 34 years. The plenum will also be an important gathering for the party to formulate its plan for the electoral battle.
The CPM was in alliance with the UPA in its first term, but left in 2008, because of its opposition to the India-US nuclear deal. However, the party now seems to have softened its stand on FDI. Sources in the CPM say that they are open to foreign direct investment coming into various sectors, except for defence, as that is against national interest.
The party is also no longer averse to supporting industrialisation and urbanisation, provided it does not lose its focus for working for the poorest of the poor. “The Communist Party works for the development of 99% of the population and not for 1% of the population,” said a senior member of the party.