Ties with casteist outfits no problem for CPI
By M. R. Venkatesh
CHENNAI, JUNE 11. As the two-day State CPI executive is all set to meet at Thanjavur on Tuesday, mainly for reviewing the May Assembly election results, the party sees no conflict in keeping company with caste-based outfits like the PMK to avert any shrinkage in the base of the ``secular alliance'' in Tamil Nadu.
The CPI bid to take a clear view, vis-a-vis continuing ties with casteist parties like the PMK, comes in the wake of the recent assessment by the Left national leadership that the defeat of the DMK-BJP combine at the hustings was ``a verdict against the communal and casteist forces.''
If ``casteist and communal forces'' had been sent packing and people had voted for the ``AIADMK-led secular alliance'' in Tamil Nadu, the question before the Left parties in the State is how to explain their ``uneasy existence'' with parties like the PMK, even if the alliance per se did not exist after the elections.
This question has become all the more problematic for the Left parties following a widespread perception that the OBC ``Vanniyar votebank'' under the PMK founder, Dr. S. Ramadoss' leadership, has become a ``shifting proposition'', going by his ambivalent attitude to the NDA in the last three years.
Responding to criticism, CPI sources here said that in Tamil Nadu their party, like the CPI(M), had entered into a seat- sharing agreement only with the AIADMK. It was the AIADMK which had separate agreements with the PMK, the TMC-Congress and some smaller parties for the May 10 polls.
``The basis for this understanding is a common enemy, namely the BJP-DMK combine; only seat sharing and not sharing of power,'' CPI sources told The Hindu. ``We only gave an assurance to the electorate that we will strive to do something for the workers and the peasantry and did not make tall promises,'' he emphasised.
The second aspect was that the Left parties considered only the BJP and the Shiv Sena `communal'. There were a number of parties ``secular in character but had combined with the BJP just to grab power at the Centre,'' the sources said.
Identifying the PMK as one such party in the second category, the sources said the Left would continue to persuade those parties ``come out of the NDA''. It was in that sense that the Tamil Nadu CPI had hailed the PMK quitting the BJP-led NDA, the sources explained.
At another level, though ``we take the All-India Forward Bloc (AIFB) as a Left party, by and large it has a caste basis in Tamil Nadu even if that is not the case in West Bengal,'' the sources argued, to drive home the point that caste- based outfits do have a history of political evolution. What is vital for the Left parties is that their base must be ``secular in character''. The only worry for the CPI is that the caste-based outfits should not degenerate into ``sectarian groups of peasantry'', like the movement under the late Narayansamy Naidu, as it would `frustrate' the overall thrust of Left parties' peasant movement.