Kerala Left must avoid war of words

Instead of cashing in on the acute discomfiture felt by the UDF Government on account of the bar bribery controversy, the CPI and the CPI(M) expended precious energies on blaming each other on the approach to finance minister and Kerala Congress(M) president, K M Mani, who is in the eye of the bar scam storm.

True, the two communist parties have since agreed on a ‘ceasefire’, and decided on launching a united agitation seeking the resignation of Mani and a thorough investigation into the bar bribery controversy. To begin with, the Left Democratic Front(LDF) will take out a march to the state secretariat on 25 November.  But the ‘cessation of hostilities’ has come a bit late in the day, as the polemics between the parties has left a trail of bitterness, which will take a while to evaporate.

It must be said, in retrospect, that the war of words has severely dented the credibility of the LDF in general and that of the CPI(M) in particular. This was a controversy which could have been avoided if only the CPs had acted with a little more tact.

Having said that, it must be said in defence of the CPI that the party was forced to launch a unilateral march to the secretariat to demand the resignation of Mani because, despite the CPI’s request, no meeting of the LDF was convened for full three weeks after the bar controversy erupted. The delay in calling the meeting, needless to say, only helped to reinforce the perception that the CPI(M) continues to be soft on Mani whom the party wanted to wean away from the UDF.

On its part, the CPI is vehemently opposed to the CPI(M) official leadership’s ‘woo-Mani strategy, and categorically ruled out an LDF with Mani’s party in it. The CPI(M) contended that the CPI had supported and had a word of praise for Mani around eight months ago, with CPI state secretary Pannyan Ravindran himself saying that Mani had better credentials than Oommen Chandy to become the chief minister.

The CPI state secretary countered by asserting that the political situation had undergone a sea-change in the last few months, with Mani finding himself under a cloud following Bar Owners’ Association working president Biju Ramesh accusation that  the KC (M) chief sought  a bribe of Rs 5 crore to ensure a decision in favour of the BOA in the ongoing case against the closure of bars in the state. Therefore, there was no way that Mani could be accommodated in the LDF. It was this difference on the approach to Mani that caused the CPI-CPI(M) verbal fireworks.

The CPI-CPI(M) verbal spat also saw the former aggressively asserting its sense of identity, in a revival of the ‘Chandrappan Line’, which enjoins non-acceptance of the hegemony of the CPI(M) within the LDF. The CPI(M) cannot impose its decisions on the LDF without consultations with  other constituents of the Front, CPI state secretary Pannyan Ravindran asserted.

Now that the LDF has decided to launch a united agitation against Mani and the UDF’s misdeeds, the CPI can rightly take the credit for forcing a change in the CPI(M)’s soft-on-Mani policy.

Interestingly, the CPI and CPI(M) stalwart V S Achuthanandan are on the same page in their approach to Mani. VS has, in fact, written to the CPI(M)’s  central leadership complaining against the state CPI(M) leadership’s soft approach to Mani and failure to exploit the widespread revulsion against the Oommen Chandy government on account of its anti-people policies and various acts of omission and commission.

It is true that a truce has been brought into force between the two communist parties. But there are signs that it may prove lasting only if the CPI(M) changes its dominating and arrogant ways. The CPI state secretary has made it clear that the CPI(M)’s big brother attitude and anti-CPI statements will not go unchallenged in the days ahead as well even as he asserted that the fond hopes of the LDF’s rivals of the front disintegrating will remain a pipedream.

In the event, one thing must be said to put things in proper perspective. The CPI and the CPI(M) have a bounden duty to strengthen the he LDF, especially in the backdrop of the efforts of communal forces to gain greater access to Kerala’s political space. And an essential prerequisite in this endeavour is strict avoidance of internecine conflicts between the two parties.     IPA

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