CPI(M)’s Third Alternative: The Right Idea, But the Wrong People?

The CPI(M) has mooted the idea of third alternative outside of the Congress and the BJP. At first it sounded like yet another pre-election gimmick. However, Sitaram Yechuri of the CPI(M) Politburo has clarified with some interesting points.

“Our stand is non-Congress and anti-BJP. Elaborating on third alternative, he said this would be formed based on three policies — opposing communalism, opposing “anti-people content of economic reforms” and opposing all efforts to make India a subordinate ally of US imperialism.

“This is not merely an electoral front. Differences between a front and alternative is that the former is a cut and paste job for elections. We are working on an alternative, which is for the long term and is built on a policy framework,” he said.

On the one hand it is admirable that a much needed third-force is being considered based on ideology rather a politics of opportunism. But the reality that such a credible force can be put together with the CPI(M) (of all parties) at the helm seems unlikely for many reasons.

  • Barring Kerala and West Bengal, the CPI(M) hardly has a strong presence in the rest of the country to lead such a force. The electorate in Kerala has consistently favored the opposition in every election. Going by this the CPI(M) in Kerala will probably be on its way out in the time for the next polls.
  • The ideology behind the third front is primarily a communist agenda. Its hard to see how the other non-BJP, non-Congress forces would primarily subscribe to a communist agenda (apart from the anti-communalism stand).
  • Sooner or later the CPI(M) will have to resort to a”cut and paste” operation of political opportunists merely to make the numbers in time for the polls. A delicate balance between cut and paste and an ideology based third force is hard to accomplish without a stronger country-wide presence (aprt from the two states).
  • With the BJP to the far right (despite Mr. Advani’s best efforts to draw it to the center), and the Congress on the left of center (or wherever Rahul Gandhi plans to take it!), a far Left alternative appears unlikely to gain momentum no matter how well intentioned unless the CPI(M) intends to move more to the center of the political spectrum.

Lastly, it begs the question as to why the CPI(M) has chosen to embark on this third front after being part of the UPA for the last four years.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

%d bloggers like this: