CPM vows course correction. Really?

CPM vows course correction. Really?
(Left) CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan attend a party function in Kannur. File Photo/Vidhuraj MT

Let us go through the excerpts of an essay: "One can borrow S.D. Burman’s song to describe what the CPI(M) was in the state a few decades ago: You are not what you were. Ninety per cent of the party members have joined after 1977, 70 per cent after 1991. They do not know the history of sacrifices of the party. To them ideological commitment to revolution and socialism is simply a fading folklore. As the new ideology is development, many of them associated with the party are in the search for personal development. They have come to take, not to give. One efficient way to bag privileges is to flatter the masters. The party has turned into a wide open field of flatterers and court jesters. Moreover, there has been a rising dominance of 'anti-socials'."

If you thought this was an analysis of the CPM's rout in the recent Lok Sabha election, you are wrong. This is from 2007. The late Ashok Mitra, former CPM minister and economist, wrote this in the aftermath of the Singur and Nandigram tragedies in Bengal 12 years ago. The doyen's words have proven to be prophetic, even in Kerala.

The party central committee assessed the people's verdict in Bengal as the worst in the history of the party. "The CPM received only 6.28 percent votes. We have to regain people's trust." The same report mentions the Kerala situation thus: "The results in Kerala were similar to the post-Emergency 1977 elections when the party lost all seats. The party failed in assessing the people's mindset."

It is premature to judge that the CPM in Kerala is headed the Bengal way just because it received a massive setback in a parliamentary election. The party has promised to revive itself, but it is heading to fresh crises.

Recurring mistakes

Even before the votes were counted, C O T Naseer, a CPM rebel candidate in Vadakara, was brutally attacked. This was a shocker because the party leadership had sent out a strong message that no violence would be entertained among the party cadre after the Peria double murders in Kasaragod.

Naseer accused CPM state committee member A N Shamseer MLA, of masterminding the attack. This is perhaps the first time that a victim of political violence has accused a top leader personally. All of the accused arrested in the case were CPM affiliates. One of them was a former driver of Shamseer.

The CPM, in a bid to convince its cadres, pointed a finger at "quotation gangs", the same anti-socials Mitra was warning against.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was himself a victim of police brutalities. His sufferings have achieved the status of a myth in the party. Yet the first order of his government after the electoral setback was to bestow magisterial powers on the police. The order was shelved thanks to stiff opposition from the CPI, the second largest party in the ruling front.

Yet, the move portrayed Pinarayi in a new light. He spoke in the assembly as the home minister who defended the controversial decision. The CPI sees the brains of former DGP Raman Sreevastava, who has been picked as the chief minister's adviser, behind the move. They even reminded the CPM to remember the Nandigram police shootings that uprooted the party in Bengal.

CPM vows course correction. Really?

Blame on 'bureaucrats'

The CPM, in hindsight, has been consistently blaming the bureaucracy for distancing itself from the people. Can the party blame anything else in its Kerala fort of Anthoor? Who pushed the NRI businessman to suicide? Was it the party's nominee who functioned as the municipal chairperson? Or the government officer who served as the municipal secretary? Sajan Parayil blamed the merciless government machinery for his death. All this at a time when government authorities hastily helped the illegal land filling in Kunnathunad.

If the party is serious about a course correction, it should start with its nerve centre in Thiruvananthapuram, the AKG Centre. Such a move is unlikely because the state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, is staring at a bigger crisis.

On April 18, just five days ahead of the crucial election verdict, Kodiyeri's wife, Vinodini, went to Mumbai to meet a Bihar woman who had complained against her son, Binoy. The CPM boss was busy with his own personal problems, when he was supposed to lead the party in its darkest hour.

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