Inner-contradictions in Kerala Left come to the fore
CPM march : A damp squib
By S. Chandrasekhar
The Kerala march undertaken by CPM State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan from January 1 to January 25, aimed at catapulting him to the Chief Minister'sthrone in the May 2006 assembly polls, has misfired into a wasted exercise as it brought forth the inner-contradictions of the CPM and the open warfare between the Pinarayi and Atchudanandan groups.
Unheard of in the CPM in Kerala, even in the times of A.K.G. or E.M.S., the Kerala March was a blatant and vulgar public display of establishing Pinarayi'shegemony over party veteran and opposition leader in the assembly V.S. Atchudanandan. Posters and publicity materials totally eliminated Atchudanandan. Moreover, special video teams were deputed by the CPM to detect absentees from the Atchudanandan faction, at public receptions given to the march especially in Atchudanandan-dominated districts like Kollam, Alapuzha, Kochi, Pathanamthita and Trissur.
While announcing the march, Pinarayi had said that the whole exercise was to directly study the problems faced by various areas and the people residing there. In his 25-day march from Kasargod in the North to Thiruvananthapuram in the South, no positive effort was made to address the multifarious problems pertaining to various parts of Kerala. The problems are of areca nut farmers in Kasargod, almost 200 suicides by farmers in Wynad, deaths and permanent disability caused by spraying of endosulphan pesticides in cashew trees, wanton destruction caused to the ecology due to indiscriminate free felling by the sandal wood and timber mafia and drying of all Kerala rivers including Bharatapuzha by the sand lifting sand mafia, rising Islamic extremism centered along Kerala'svast coastline, the sex rackets thriving throughout the state, increasing family suicides, the arrogance of the cola giant Pepsi in denying good drinking water to lakhs of villagers in Plachimada and the pollution caused by scores of steel mills in Palakkad, the education mafia of the minorities which control educational and professional institutions fleecing unfortunate parents, the deaths on account of the powerful illicit liquor lobby, the problems of persons engaged in traditional sectors like handloom, coir, paddy, coconut cultivation etc. In short, none of the issues affecting the common man found mention in the speeches of Pinarayi. The only demand was for vote, to make him the Chief Minister.
Breakfast meetings were held during the march in which the elite, gulf-returned neo-rich, landlords and businessmen were invited and discussions held. This has not been to the liking of the CITU and Atchudanandan faction. Perhaps Pinarayi was assuring the erstwhile ?class enemies? that they will have no problems when he assumes power. There are also reports that promises of crores for the election funds were obtained during these meetings.
Recently, even petty shopkeepers were treated as bourgeoisie and hence class enemies. But in total contradiction to this, breakfast meetings were held during the entire period of the march in which the elite, gulf-returned neo-rich, landlords, businessmen etc. were invited and discussions held. This has not been to liking of the CITU and Atchudanandan faction. Perhaps Pinarayi was assuring the erstwhile ?class enemies? that they will have no problems when he assumes power. There are also reports that promises of crores for the election funds were obtained during these meetings.
The much-touted public receipt of representations by Pinarayi from the common people turned out to be a farce since most of the complaints received were against CPM men itself. They related to harassment by local party leaders, wealth amassment by CPM men, complaints relating to inter-group unrest and unholy alliances with gulf business groups.
None of the issues affecting the common man found mention in the speeches of Pinarayi. The only demand was vote, to make him the Chief Minister.
The group warfare between Pinarayi and Atchudanandan also intensified during the period. When the march entered Thiruvananthapuram, Atchudanandan organised a parallel march to the Kovalam palace (demanding takeover by the GoI from a private hotelier), thereby torpedoing mass participation at Pinarayis? rallies. Moreover, obtaining of funds from Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Sustainable Urban Development Project by CPM-controlled Corporation of Kerala also became a bone of contention between Pinarayi and Atchudanandan. While Atchudanandan was dead against obtaining ADB funds, which would levy user fees for public water taps and solid waste management, Pinarayi was all for it.
Thus with two streams going on in the CPM, the old guard hard-core theoretician Atchudanandan and the new-look Pinarayi, who wants to give a new-class outfit to it, the war in the CPM will only intensify in the run-up to the polls. But it is to be noted that the CPM of the 2006 is not the party of fifties or sixties. It is the richest party in Kerala having assets estimated at Rs. 4,500 crore with interests in anything under the sun, from liquor to leisure parks and real estates to reel (film) industry. Earlier the rich man was the class enemy but under Pinarayi, the poor man is the class enemy who doesn'tdeserve existence.