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CPM plenumon on September 30: Party plans changes in structure; may shift focus to youth, women leaders

On September 10, Congress had lost control of the zila parishad in Murshidabad, when seven of its members switched over to the Trinamool along with three Left MLAs.

Written by Esha Roy | Kolkata |
September 27, 2016 3:12:56 am

WITH TRINAMOOL Congress completing its annexation of all zila parishads in the state, the Left Front’s two-day state plenum, set to be held in Kolkata from September 30, would reportedly discuss the need to bring about sweeping changes in the party structure, including streamlining of its organisation.

Officially, a plenum is a routine affair. Post national plenum, the CPM in all states holds plenums to officially accept the resolutions passed at the national level meeting. But the situation in West Bengal is different this time, leaders said.

At the national CPM Plenum — held after a gap of 37 years in Kolkata last December — the party had passed a resolution stating that its electoral understanding with the Congress in the run-up to the state polls earlier this year was not in consonance with the ideology or resolutions passed by the Politburo. Officially, this recommendation would be adopted in the September 30 plenum.

But whether to “cooperate with Congress” is no longer CPM’s primary concern. With the Congress being practically decimated in the state with several of its leaders — along with that of Left’s — joining the ruling Trinamool Congress in the recent past, insiders said CPM has finally realised that it may need to bring about drastic changes in the party to survive in the state.

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On September 10, Congress had lost control of the zila parishad in Murshidabad, when seven of its members switched over to the Trinamool along with three Left MLAs. With this, Trinamool has completed its annexation of all zila parishads. In August, it had captured the zila parishads of Malda and Jalpaiguri, where CPM and Congress were in majority.

A senior leader said: “The leaders will discuss streamlining of the party at the plenum. CPM as a party is one of the most structured party. You have the politburo — the state level committee. Then you have district committees, zonal committees and zila committees among others, right down to the smallest local unit at village levels. The feeling now is that maybe the party is too structured.”

“The party will consider doing away with at least one rung. For instance, the zonal committees may be done away with. This is to ensure that leaders are more easily and directly linked with local units and that messages and policy decisions reach faster to the grassroots level. This will also ensure that reports from ground up reach leaders faster so that at all times, they are aware of the situation at the ground level,” he added.

If this move becomes a reality, this will likely be one of the most radical organisational changes made by the CPM in the recent past. A leader said that while hierarchy and structures had its use in the past, things were changing at a rapid pace in Bengal, and CPM needs to change with the times.

Apart from whittling down its structure, the other big change the party is likely to consider is to bring forth “younger blood” into the leadership. “Not only with voters, there has been some sort of a disconnect between the party and its workers as well. The leaders have dedicated their entire lives to the party. They have made immense sacrifices for the party and what they believe in. But they have now aged, and it may not be possible for them to fight as much as the younger generation,” said a leader.

The CPM’s plan —to identify and hone younger people and over the next few years, induct them into the state leadership, the leader added.

“The senior leaders are of course invaluable. But even things such as social media have become important now. It comes more naturally to the young and not so much to the older leaders. But if you don’t connect to the younger generation, how do you give rise to a mass movement? So, we will look at younger leaders more seriously,” a leader said.

The party also plans to focus more on women leaders. Sources said there is a growing feeling that Trinamool has managed to groom more women leaders. Just as youth is important for a people’s movement, equally important are women, said a leader.

“Many Left workers and elected representatives who have defected to Trinamool have been allured with money. That’s fine. Let them go. We don’t want such leaders. But there are many who have switched over out of frustration… They feel CPM can no longer achieve anything in Bengal. This frustration needs to be addressed,” said a Left worker.

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