Tuesday, June 18, 2024

CPI (M) and religion


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Marx called religion the opium of the masses. The CPI (M) has undergone considerable ideological change but Marx remains its principal icon. It seems, however, that political compulsions may force Indian Marxists to rewrite their ideology. In a possible historic deviation, CPI (M) leaders are reported to be considering whether they should embrace religion. It is being debated among them whether religion should be untouchable or not given the party’s poor presence and performance in states where religion plays a major role. Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee feels that his party should be liberal in the current political scenario as it has struck a lean patch. He and some other top CPI (M) leaders want religion to be included in the new party thesis being drawn up by politburo member Sitaram Yechuri. It will be placed before the party congress to be held in Kerala next year.

It may be recalled that in Kerala, a Roman Catholic former Communist MP, K.S. Manoj walked out of a party meeting in protest against the diktat to refrain from observing religious rituals. Another MP, A.P. Abdulla Kutty was expelled from the party for joining religious programmes. In West Bengal, former Minister Subhas Chakraborty was censured for worshipping at a Kali temple. He argued that the party had not imbibed Indian values which were fundamentally religious. It is not surprising that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has now leaned towards religion. Power dynamics distort ideology. He had diluted socialism by joining hands with industrialists doing his Chief Ministership. Focussing on religion may put him at odds with genuine secularism.


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