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Millennium Post

Colour me bad, colour me CPI(M)

'We had prepared a list. The first one was shot dead, the second beaten to death and the third was hacked to death.' These words are not part of a set-piece dialogue by the scripted villain of a Bollywood feature. They were spoken by an influential CPI(M) leader in Kerala who claimed that 'political killings were nothing new to the party'. The catalogue of manslaughter was apparently how the party went about dismembering its opponents and dissidents. And these words were not captured, as it were, in some drunken state through some sting video. These words by MM Mani, district secretary of Idukki, were addressed at a rally. Mani thought it wise that he could enlist CPI(M)'s murderous intents in public and get applause for displaying what in CPI(M) parlance is party-sanctioned bravado. In the same speech, Mani declared that such retributions will continue to be considered. The fact that he is close to Kerala CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan must have played a role in his foolish boasting.

Those who know the CPI(M) closely would know that both in Bengal and Kerala they had grown into a party, which had very little tolerance for dissent and opposition and in rural areas it had always managed to harbour the fear among its opponents that it could physically eliminate anyone who would dare to stand up to it. For this purpose, the Bengal CPI(M) has even raised an illegal army, specially when faced with the prospect of Maoist retaliation and an increasingly strong Trinamul Congress presence. In Kerala, the CPI(M) is also facing one political test after another. Only recently the party was dealt a blow when Achutanandan protégé TP Chandrasekharan left the party and was heard floating his own. He was murdered earlier this month. His murder had already put the state CPI(M) in an uncomfortable situation but now, after Mani's statement, the murder is bound to raise huge political heckles. Thankfully the police and the state government is in no mood to let Mani's statements wither away. The police on Monday booked Mani and have registered a case of murder, abetment to murder and concealing information. And Kerala CM Oomen Chandy has said that the government would pursue the case and may well open fresh investigations into all cases of political murder. By all means it should. In a democracy, such diabolic declarations of bloody retributions remind one of medieval practices and punishment histories. Both in rhetoric and practice this sort of swaggering is unacceptable. The case must be pursued without political browbeating and chased to its logical end. The CPI(M), if at all it wants to stay relevant, must learn to do politics not in its own cocky, self-serving ways but in the terms of what is acceptable and not in a democracy.
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