Terming the success of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) against Congress and BJP "a positive development", CPI(M) on Thursday said its future trajectory would depend on how it shapes its policies on economic and communal fronts.
With AAP planning to become a national party and fight elections in other states, the major Left party said it becomes all the more important that it spells out its basic programmes and policies.
"Only then, will it be possible for the people to determine the nature of the party and the direction it will take," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said in an article in the forthcoming issue of party organ 'People's Democracy'.
Maintaining that AAP has been "riding on the plank of fighting the political establishment", he said this was a stance that "tars all political parties with the same brush", including the Left parties.
"The non-political and even anti-political origins of the AAP with its middle class/NGO antecedents seems to prevent it from discerning the ruling class politics and politicians from those like the communists who have always stood firmly in support of the working people and their cause," Karat said.
He said the Left agenda was "clear-cut" as its policies favoured the working class and the people and stood for social justice, democratisation and decentralisation of power.
While AAP proposed to tackle some critical problems like corruption faced by the people of Delhi, "it has so far been silent on the nature of the economic policies which have produced these problems," Karat said.
Giving the example of the "continuously rising" electricity rates, he said this was due to privatisation of power distribution in the city.
"The high-level institutionalised corruption is an outcome of the neo-liberal regime. So is the contractised work pattern."
Observing that AAP was yet to advocate policies which were an alternative to neo-liberalism, Karat said "there seems to be a tendency to gloss over these matters, perhaps due to the contradictions that exist in the social base which has rallied around in the (AAP) party."
Stating that "While AAP has effectively checked BJP's advance and exposed their corruption and policies which were similar to the Congress," Karat said Narendra Modi's appeal to the middle class and youth was also blunted by the AAP campaign.
"However, in this context, the AAP's stand on communalism and its attack on the communal Hindutva agenda was absent. Can AAP ever hope to present itself as an alternative without taking a clear-cut stand against communalism," he asked.
Maintaining that neo-liberal regime followed by Congress and BJP was "the fountainhead of high-level corruption", he said such policies had "heaped burdens on the people and intensified exploitation by pursuing policies which are in the interests of the international finance capital and Indian big business."
"Unfortunately, there are very few parties, apart from the Left parties, who have policies which are different from those of these two parties," the CPI(M) leader said.
Observing that AAP was "at an important crossroads after the Delhi elections," he asked whether it would be able to spell out an alternative policy direction and "build a party which will represent the interests of the aam aadmi and the working people of the country. On this will depend the future trajectory of this novel political formation." Maintaining that it was good that AAP government was setting a new precedent and setting new norms of public service by their easy access to the people and simple style of living, Karat said such practices have been pursued by the Left since the first communist government came to power in 1957 in Kerala.
While CPI(M) has always relied on mass contributions of small amounts and the levy paid by party members, its leaders, including Chief Ministers like EMS Namboodiripad, Jyoti Basu, Nripen Chakraborty and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, have "set the example."
Former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan has "the image of an incorruptible leader", while current Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is known to be the "poorest chief minister" in the country in terms of his income and assets.
The Left-led governments have implemented land reforms, assured the rights of the working people, decentralised powers to the panchayati raj system and set an example in running corruption free ministries, Karat said, adding the AAP leaders' act of not seeking large accommodations is as per "the tradition set by communist leaders in public office." The top CPI(M) leader asked whether AAP would be "able to spell out an alternative policy direction and build a party which will represent the interests of the aam aadmi and the working people of the country? On this, will depend the future trajectory of this novel political formation."