Why are the Left’s fortunes so down in Kerala? These days opinion polls after polls predict a near clean sweep for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
And thus despite the various scams that have buffeted the Oommen Chandy. Why? That is because of the sheer brazenness with the Pinarayi faction of the CPI(M) has been conducting itself, destroying opposition both within and outside the party. In one word it could be said to have criminalized the polity to alarming levels – and the high command has been a helpless spectator, for reasons best to known to it.
Take for instance the horrific killing of party rebel T.P Chandrasekharan on May 4, 2012. Chandrasekharan, who earned wrath of party’s Kerala boss Pinarayi Vijayan for questioning alleged deviations of the party from its core principles, turned a bitter critic of the party soon after his expulsion, and he floated his own Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) in Onchiyam Village in Kozhikode district, which occupies a prime position in Kerala’s left history because of the brutal suppression of a peasant uprising by the then British police. Chandrasekharan was hacked to death in the dead of the night by hired goons, and the investigations revealed an unholy nexus between a section of CPI(M) leaders in Kerala, especially from Kannur district and criminal gangs.
With Pinarayi Vijayan’s arch rival V S Achuthanandan standing solidly by the widow and the son of Chandrasekharan for justice, an effective police investigation was conducted, and it found many CPI(M) leaders responsible for the murder. Now the CBI is set to look deeper into the conspiracy angle.
What further damaged the CPI(M) image was the inhuman way Pinarayi Vijayan and his cronies justified the murder and humiliated Chandrasekaaran’s widow for demanding a proper investigation into the case. Finally, the party was forced to announce an investigation of its own in the case, and then it solemnly announced that its probe found an area committee member was responsible for the murder because of personal enmity. The area committee member, now undergoing life imprisonment along with hired goons in the Viyyur Central Jail, was soon expelled from the party.
Achuthanandan too seemed to accept the party version, but many questions were raised over the timing of the release of the findings – on the eve of the elections, that is. The entire investigation was done in a cloak and dagger fashion – the outside world was not even told who were the members of the committee or on what basis they nailed the area committee member in question.
National leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechuri would not open their mouths on such a serious issue, an episode that had brought so much notoriety to the party.
“Kerala has seen many political murders before too and lumpen elements involved have been protected by the respective parties. But what makes Chadrasekaharan murder different is the way the CPI(M) leadership openly backed the assasins and extended them legal aid, engaging top lawyers for them. Instead of solving the issue by tendering an unconditional apology, they have blown the issue out of proportion by their sheer arrogance. Impartial voters have become fed up by the way they justified the 51 slashes found on the face of Chadrasekharan,” says Union Defense Minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony.
“Unlike many other politicians in the country, I never wanted to see the CPI(M) lose its relevance in India. But the party is now alienating itself from the masses it represented by showing impudence and disregard. Murder politics is undoubtedly boomeranging on the party now,” says Antony.
Though he is a bitter critic of left for long, many in Kerala share Antony’s observation. “Till three months ago, the left had a clear edge in Kerala because of the huge corruption and misrule by Antony’s disciple Oommen Chandy. People had turned against the Congress because one scam followed another scam. But now the left has squandered away all its chances thanks to Pinaryi and his coterie.” regrets handling V Murali, a political observer who still prefers left as his favourite.
Many within the CPI(M) argue that the Kannur lobby of the party led by Pinarayi Vijayan and fellow politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was liquidating the party. There have indeed been allegations that Pinarayi Vijayan and his group preferred to embrace defeat in about one dozen assembly constituencies in the last assembly polls only to prevent Achuthanandan getting one more term as Chief Minister.
In their opinion, television panel discussions involving Pinarayi’s key aids E P Jayarajan, P Jayarajan and M V Jayarajan (all from Kannur) have caused enormous damage to the party through their open exhortation for criminalization of politics.
Besides all is not well with the Left Democratic Front. During the beginning of the election process, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)’s state unit ended its four decades old association with CPI(M) and migrated to the UDF. The party, which was feeling extreme humiliation and step-motherly attitude of CPI(M) for long, was further aggrieved with the CPI(M)’s decision to turn down its request for Kollam Lok sabha seat. Now, RSP’s N K Premachandran is contesting in Kollam as UDF candidate and posing a serious challenge to CPI(M) politburo member M A Baby, presently a member of state legislative assembly.
It was only during last assembly election, eminent socialist leader M P Veerendrakumar and his followers left LDF fold causing it irreparable damage. They too had blamed the highhandedness of Vijayan and company for their decision to break ranks.
In a damage control move, the CPI(M) has allotted the Kottayam seat to Janata Dal (secular), but the party has scant following in the state.
Other than Chadrasekharan saga, the murder of an innocent Muslim youth on mistaken identity in Thrissur district while targeting an RSS activist has further damaged the CPI(M)’s reputation.
Another strange phenomenon this time that the Left has fielded independents with dubious credentials in five key constituencies – they were all strong anti-communists in their previous avatars. Two senior Congress leaders, an advocate representing lard sharks belonging to catholic Church, a former IAS officer in Gujarat who hailed Narendra Modi’s governance in public and a comedian actor are being propped up by the party while promising CPI(M) leaders were either sidelined or neglected.
The church-backed lawyer contesting in Idukki is facing charges of land grabbing. While the church claims him as a candidate of the action committee it floated to protest an environmental report protecting Western Ghats, the CPI(M) says he owe allegiance to left. But the track record says he had been a Congressman all along.
“These candidates are unattached and the party has no control over them. If elected, they would be poached by Narendra Modi to gain numbers to form a government,” warns Vellapally Natesan, leader of powerful Ezhava community.
How they managed to win the CPM support is a story by itself. If the Left finds itself in a soup in its own citadel, it has to blame only itself and none else.
So will the Left become irrelevant in kerala too,in one of its last remaining strongholds…….is there a chance for the upstart AAP to fill the void