Opinion | CPM's progressive moorings and Pinarayi's last-mile connectivity woes

Opinion | CPM's progressive moorings and Pinarayi's last-mile connectivity woes
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan (L), DYFI workers Alan Shuhaib and Thaha Fazal (R)

For a government having just a notch above a year to complete its term, the Pinarayi dispensation seems to be stuttering.

The latest issue is about slapping Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on Alan Shuhaib and Thaha Fasal for distributing pro-Maoist pamphlets and shouting pro-Maoist slogans.

Incidentally, both are CPM sympathisers, to say the least.

The government rallied behind the action by Thunderbolts, an elite commando force formed to tackle Maoist threat.

But as criticism mounted on the government action, Pinarayi himself first defended it. Then the party-state unit toed his line.

And the latest twist is that Maoists were being given fodder to feed by radical Islamist outfits.

The revelation came from none other than CPM's Kozhikode district secretary at a public meeting.

The CPM's central leadership has shrugged away from toeing such a line. Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury and his predecessor Prakash Karat think it was unfair to slap a controversial act like UAPA, which gives powers to the government to declare individuals as terrorists.

Opinion | CPM's progressive moorings and Pinarayi's last-mile connectivity woes
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury

The CPM's Elamaram Kareem had slammed the amendment in the Rajya Sabha while the discussion on it took place.

The 23rd Party Congress of the CPM and the CPI's 21st Party Congress had slammed draconian laws like UAPA.

Merits and demerits of the government stance apart, this has widened the rift within the CPM and the Left Democratic Front (LDF), with the CPI criticising the move.

The Pinarayi government, which is sticking to its stand, has by now alienated its own activists and party sympathisers.

Furthermore, it has put itself in the same camp as the Amit Shah-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the UAPA, shedding its inhibitions on perceived draconian laws.

The BJP has welcomed the admission by the CPM, giving the Congress fodder to nail the LDF government's soft Hindutva approach.

During the JNU stir also, the Left parties had opposed slapping draconian laws against students. The BJP had then alleged that Left ultras and Islamic sedition mongers had joined hands in JNU.

So what is prompting the state's ruling dispensation for such an act?

If the CPM state unit and its government are speaking in the same tone linking Maoists to radical Islamist outfits, there need to be a definite political thought process behind it.

And that thought process would have to invariably result in electoral gains.

So by the present 'Islamist twist' to Maoist activities in the state, it risks alienating a section of Muslims. Why should it do so?

Moreover, it would also amount to a tacit admission that Maoists backed by Islamic radicals have infiltrated the CPM.

The reasons are hard to come by, but in the aftermath of the Sabarimala verdict, when protests raged, the CPM and the government unequivocally stood for implementing the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter the hill shrine.

In fact, it was too keen to facilitate the entry of women to Sabarimala, wasn't it?

Fair enough it proclaimed its progressive credentials to even create a renaissance wall but failed to gauge its political fallout.

Defiant CPM leaders, including the chief minister, even went to the town saying it would stick to its stance even if it loses a few votes.

The electorate failed to accept the merit of the CPM-led dispensation's argument. The LDF was routed in the Lok Sabha polls.

There was too much of a rethink and a U-turn within the CPM and its government after that electoral drubbing.

Now after a Supreme Court constitution bench's verdict makes it clear that there is no stay on women's entry till a larger bench issues a final verdict, the Pinarayi dispensation is not so keen to implement it.

Opinion | CPM's progressive moorings and Pinarayi's last-mile connectivity woes
Sabarimala protests.

Like rivals Congress and the BJP, It went soft on the Sabarimala issue during the recent Assembly bypolls, in which the LDF reaped gains.

So, probably the damage is undone. But then there is a final verdict waiting to come. 

Opinion | CPM's progressive moorings and Pinarayi's last-mile connectivity woes
Sabarimala temple. Photo: Manorama

Either way, it would be a tough call for the Pinarayi government to deal with it.

Perhaps, herein stems the confusion about its progressive moorings, which the party is struggling to stick to.

In the LS polls, the Muslims did not vote en masse to the CPM as they probably did in the 2016 Assembly polls.

And a section of the CPM also perhaps dabbles with the confusion regarding a perceived erosion of its traditional Hindu votes, coinciding with the emergence of the BJP in the state.

The CPM should stick to its proclaimed stand, especially on sensitive issues, even if it means immediate electoral losses.

It has now lost the patronage of a vast section which backed its renaissance push.

It has not been able to garner support from its detached sympathisers also. All this melee is despite a commendable effort on many counts by the state administration.

As of now, the CPM seems to be lacking an understanding about the relevance of last-mile connectivity in the political turf that it has waded into.

In other words, the portion of the network that reaches the end-users in telecommunications. In political parlance, voters are the end-users.

The CPM-led government has just about time to rectify glitches, but it needs the sound judgment of political realities and a solid understanding of the voters' issues.

Dabbling with multiple stances on controversial issues won't do.

Saner counsel should prevail within the CPM and the government to cherish the idea of a comeback win in the 2021 assembly polls.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.