The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has sent a letter to its members, asking them to toe the party line and refrain from “liking” an article or sharing it on social media if it goes against the organisational principle of democratic centralism. A party makes decisions through democratically elected bodies that are binding on all members, according to the syetem of democratic centralism.

In its guideline on social media participation, Communist party members have been barred from expressing critical opinions and questioning the party’s principle, reported The Times of India.

The letter comes in the wake of a recent controversy around party Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee. Banerjee had reportedly sent a mail to the employer of a party member who had criticised his lifestyle on social media. Besides this, a party group on social media – Bam Bangalir Adda – had invited people to ask questions and share their opinions with party state secretariat members. Although the group was meant for a select few, it grew quickly and had attracted members from the unit level to central committee level.

The CPI(M) letter urges party members to express their critical opinions only within the party unit. “Party members are free to express their opinion at the relevant party forum... But there has to be some sort of a discipline in running an organisation. The guideline is for party members only,” a CPM state secretariat member told The Times of India.

Another state committee member explained the diktat with an example. “There is no harm if I put a like on historian Irfan Habib’s article saying that the Bharat Mata concept was an import of the British, but I cannot do so when the historian urges upon all anti-BJP parties, including Left and Congress, to come together because the party doesn’t approve it,” he told the daily.