Chief Minsiter V S Achuthanandan has expressed his desire to step down as CM to the central leadership. The speculation around why VS cleared his files before the Kottayam conference has now reached its inevitable conclusion. This will be the first time in CPIMs history that one of its Chief Minsters resigns. As the Kottayam Conference reaches its final phase, the majority of delegates have expressed irreconcilable differences with the functioning of the state government. Divorce is imminent.
Yeah! There we are. I was reading Malayala Manorama after like eons. ‘Exciting newspaper’ would be too mild a word for the latex paper, it is an orgasmic newspaper, it drives you right there into that throbbing wedge of lies and embedded journalism. Even Pinarayi Vijayan, Prakash Karat or VS himself would be unaware of these developments. Its like good old soviet land where even if you live in the village you wouldn’t know about that six lane road and the fourteen new bridges. You need to read the Pravda.
But Politics is not so exciting, despite all the efforts of our media comrades. Otherwise, Parliamentary elections would have been over by now, and CPIMs defeat in the polls would have made VS resign as CM owning moral responsibility. Neither was a charge sheet filed in SNC lavlin case before the Party conference which would have ended the political career of Pinarayi Vijayan. But both the politicians survived to die another day. But is all well with the party at Kottayam given there are no fireworks like Malappuram or Palakkad conferences. Don’t think so.
The party has become a well-oiled machinery, a juggernaut with a management efficiency that corporates would envy. If the case that the party has not lost a single election in the past seven years is overkill, snippets from the Kottayam conference are just fine to prove the point. The party decided to do away with plastic in the run up to the conference six months back, and Kottayam has a “green” conference in all respects – that is just one subtle detail on where it is heading. Another aspect is the cut outs of leaders, of both Vijayan and VS, that line the town. Add to that statements by state leaders praising Pinarayi as the “height of malayali manhood” or VS supporters tearing up posters of “Roudram”. A personality cult is emerging, sycophants are setting up shop. It’s not a middle-class value, but too seditious. Thats a right turn from being a spectacle to being a mob.
I’m not taking sides with the “underdog” VS or the all powerful Vijayan faction. It would be a mistake to assume that groups like the ones in the Congress party exist, and it would be naive to assume that alls well. VS or the media has no right to criticize the Kannur lobby as Stalinists. If history is a reminder, VS was a ‘Stalinist’ himself, rummaging through opposition with all his might, be it the CITU faction in Palakkad or the Nayanar-Raghavan faction who proposed an alliance with Muslim league. And the North Kerala – South Kerala divide is there in CPIM from the day it tasted power.
Even the term “Vettinirathal” (the one now attached to the Kannur lobby), if you remember was coined for VS’s script with characters ranging from VB Cherian to Susheela Gopalan (whom VS cut down to pave way for his bitter noire EK Nayanar when the question of Chief Ministership came up in 1996).
Nor can VS justify his often blunt criticism of his own ministers, and the way he plays the media, where observers are often left to wonder on the state of party discipline. Even while agreeing to his taking up the people’s struggle across the length and breadth of the state, against Mafias and vested interests, one has to disagree with his methods which exclude the party. When the party is excluded from the struggle, it relies a lot on the “Power of One” and fails to become a mass movement, it doesn’t give you the brotherhood of the unknown man tied to you by a disciplined party machinery. No wonder VS’s campaigns are in most cases not sustainable, like Munnar, in the long term. It’s like right man, right party and both of no use to the other.
Photo Courtesy: Deni Lal
As the official faction (ok fine, the party) points out discipline is very important. But when the party is so given to processes that it has to refer to the party constitution every four minutes, it stops living. It becomes a well managed business, like General Electric, with excellent processes to drive everything. But it loses its vitality.
Terming dissenting opinion as outdated and further calling it a breach of discipline sounds very very Orwellian. The basic understanding that the “ideological struggle has to continue until all manifestations of deviation are thoroughly wiped out from the realm of theory and praxis” is missing. There is no ideological debate happening. Neither VS nor Vijayan represents an ideology, but terming every uncomfortable question raised as dissent or “revisionist” will kill a party that survives by thought.
Point is the debate has to continue in the party, cadres need to be confused and thoughtful. Only at that point will the rust go off the knives and clear answers emerge from the chaos. Otherwise if February 14th as some say will be the last day of debates in Kerala CPIM, we’ll have a party that marches well, marches strong like it will take four hours to cross a point, marches loud that Kerala sits up and listens, but not knowing where it is marching. When the party exists for nothing but the party, the point will be to march forward for the sake of marching. This is what the Fascists did in Germany; this is why they failed, per Albert Camus. For an argument Albert Camus is dead, then Marx too and is Milton Freidman. Point is there is no point in marching, if you are marching for the sake of marching, not knowing why you are marching or where you are marching to.
P Krishnapillai’s last words “Sakhale Munnottu” asking his party to march ahead is an inspiration, but that does not support the case for forgetting what he warned of right before that, of the party slipping into a stage where there is “criticism but no self-criticism”. March ahead destroying the hypocrisies of our times, but let the inner churn not subside, keep the debate alive.