Millennium Post

Moment of truth for Kerala

The shocking murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader T P Chandrashekharan has plunged the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) into an unprecedented crisis.

Though the CPI(M) has denied any involvement in the murder, the fact that  CPI(M) leaders are among those arrested in connection with the murder has demolished the party’s stand.

What has outraged a substantial section of even CPI(M) cadres has been the  stand taken by Kerala CPI(M) Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan that Chandrashekharan was a renegade who had been expelled for anti-party activities. They feel that the remark was totally uncalled for and had done incalculable damage to the party’s image.

Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan, however, did not agree with Vijayan. VS said Chandrashekharan was a courageous communist, triggering a war of words between the two, to the dismay of the central leadership of the party.

VS upped the ante by holding a press conference to take Vijayan head on. At the press conference, VS likened the Onchiyam rebellion which saw Chandrashekharan and his followers leaving the CPI(M) and forming the RMP four years ago, to the ideological movement that split the unified Communist party in 1964. Achuthanandan roundly   accused Vijayan of behaving like SA Dange, who caused a split in the Communist Party of India in 1964 forcing 32 leaders including himself to walk out of the party and form the CPI(M).

The VS outburst has stunned the official wing of the state CPI(M) and the central leadership. In a way VS was virtually daring the leadership to take action against him, and signaling his intention to leave the party, if pushed to the wall. VS has taken the daring stand as he knows that the leadership is in no position to take any drastic action against him in the immediate future.

Pinarayi Vijayan has also reacted cautiously to the VS remark, asking the party leaders not to react to it. He said the issue will be discussed after the by-election.The Vijayan stand shows that the party is afraid to act against VS at this crucial juncture when the party is facing perhaps the most serious crisis since its inception.  

A worried central leadership has intervened to effect a temporary truce as the party is facing another crucial by-election from Neyyattinkara less than three weeks away.  True, the war of words has stopped for the time being, but it is bound to revive after the by-election.                         

What is worrying the CPI(M) more than anything is the growing support for the murdered RMP leader. A large number of CPI(M) cadres continue to express solidarity with him and visit his residence. Only the other day, around 500 party cadres defied the party directive and held a meeting to mourn Chandrashekharan. The speakers fondly remembered their association with ‘comrade TP’, who had worked as the DYFI secretary and SFI leader. The Kozhikode corporation which has a CPI(M) mayor, passed a unanimous resolution condemning TP’s murder.

All this shows that the days ahead may see an exodus from the CPI(M) to the RMP. A number of CPI(M) activists who called on  TP’s widow had made it clear that if the party’s involvement in the murder is proved, they would quit it.

Even the allies like the CPI have condemned the politics of murder. One CPI leader is on record that if CPI(M) leaders are behind the murder, the law should take its own course. A worried RSP leader T J Chandrachoodan visited VS to urge him not  to precipitate matters in view of the crucial Neyyattinkara by-election.

The stand taken by Pinarayi Vijayan that all this was a part of a conspiracy by the UDF leaders to weaken the CPI(M) has not convinced even the party cadres. The continued flow of party activists to the house of TP’s widow testifies to that. Needless to say, the official wing of the party finds itself in a tight political spot. If more party leaders are arrested, it would cause further reverberations within the party. That much is clear. Equally significant is the fact that not even leaders supporting Vijayan have come out in his defence  in the wake of the murder crisis.        

In this connection, the Central Committee meeting to be held in New Delhi on 8 and 9 June will be crucial. By that time, the Neyyattinkara by-election will be over.

That Kerala is no stranger to the politics of murder (murder of politics?) is only to state the obvious. But with the horrendous murder of TP Chandrashekharan, the murder politics has plumbed new depths of brutality and depravity. Will the state CPI(M) leadership realise even now, that the politics of murder does not pay and sever all connections with the quotation gangs and criminals  it has encouraged to settle scores with political rivals?
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