It was not long past that the CPI (M) opposed privatisation spree of the Narendra Modi Government. Even today, the Communist Party opposes all kinds of “destructive privatisation” by the Centre. However, when talking of creating a “New Kerala”, the communists have gone for an “ideological shift” with the vision document presented by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, talking about a new developmental perspective that revolves around private investment, including opening doors to private universities in the state.
The CPI (M) has swallowed their own words of protest in this “capitalist shift” of the ideologies. Vijyan presented the blueprint of this “marxist shift” at the ongoing State Party Congress in Kochi.
The Document points that research institutions should be set up in government cooperative and private sectors and stressed the need for linking higher educational institutions with production sector. With fiscal constraints and weaknesses, the Left feels that Nava Keralam’ (New Kerala) can only be built with the support of the private hands or may be the Corporate, which the Left had in the past opposed vehemently. However, the Communists in Kerala in the past many years are seen much allied to the Corporate and highly influential businessmen, which is quite evident in some leaders having more than a relation with them.
Even as the CPM wants Private partnership, Vijayan in the vision document has not forgotten to their ideological commitment to protect the interests of the marginalised and the dispossessed. The CPM had always opposed privatisation (the national CPM still do) noting that it could only divide the marginalised and dispossessed but now an ideology shift from the Kerala Unit of CPI (M) is worthy a note to make.
It is not any surprise that Vijayan made this drastic“privatisation shift”. For the last many years, may be more than a decade, the shift of the party towards corporate, rather influential businessmen (a few NRks) was quite evident. Be it opening of businesses or framing policies, the policy of appeasement towards this sect was quite evident. Though a few voices had come up against this “swinging appeasement corporate policy”, all went into oblivion.
Moreover, political pundits were critical that the CPI (M) has been consolidating on a few, rather to say one only one person. Moreover, the present policy shift, as some of the critics point out was nothing new and was inevitable and the party has for the last many years budged from its leftists ideologies.
Here, let us look at a few privatisation issues where the CPM had opposed in the recent past. The Party had expressed its strong opposition to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) by 100 per cent strategic disinvestment of its corporate entity, the Rashtriya Ispat Nigarn Ltd. Moreover, they strongly opposed the decision for privatisation of the Indian Railways particularly the running of passenger trains by private investors over the Indian Railways network. It was also against the decision to allow commercial mining of coal by private sector including foreign entitles and the move to privatise public sector coal mining companies. More to say, they opposed the proposed “Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020” which is designed for the complete privatisation of the power sector and handing over of historical monuments to private parties.
CONTRARY TO POLITICAL RESOLUTION
The new political and ideological shift drawn by the vision document runs contrary to the draft political resolution prepared by the Party Central Committee held in Hyderabad on January 7-9. In that policy resolution, the CPM holds that private universities, institutions, tutorial and skill development centres are mushrooming, converting education into a commodity whose access is out of reach for a vast majority of people.
Further, the CPM says that International finance capital led neoliberalism has consolidated the process of widening income and wealth inequalities. This is an indicator of the consolidation of neo-liberalism’s objective of maximisation of profits. It further says that neo-liberalism has proven its bankruptcy in providing any solution for the economic crisis, that its policies and prescriptions caused in the first place. On the contrary, its singular focus on profit maximization is only further exacerbating the crisis. However, utilizing the situation created by the global pandemic, it is seeking its further consolidation The stimulus packages it has designed continue to enrich the rich, creating conditions for strengthening the grip of global finance capital not only over the economy but also in shaping the political dispensations in many countries that favour aggressive neo-liberal policies,” the policy states.
Moreover, the Policy statement outlines that the Party must be in the forefront to mobilise the widest sections of people against the aggressive pursuit of neoliberal polices; the outright loot of our national assets; large scale privatisation of the public sector, public utilities and mineral resources.