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The Rediff Interview/ M V Raghavan

'Murdering people who are sleeping at home is beyond political decency. Political rivals should be faced on an ideological plane, not through muscle power'

If there is a person in Kerala whose political ruin the Communist Party of India-Marxist would rather see than anything else, it is Communist Marxist Party chieften M V Raghavan.

The former state minister, arrested recently in connection with the 1994 police firing in Kannur district which led to the death of five CPI-M youth wing activists, was a firebrand Marxist leader till 1985, when he was expelled. In 1996, he formed the CMP in alliance with the Congress-led United Democratic Front.

Since then, Raghavan has topped the CPI-M's political hit-list.

His term as the minister for co-operation in the UDF government saw his and his relatives's homes being attacked. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (the CPI-M youth wing), Raghavan alleges, was let loose on him and many times he escaped death by the skin of his teeth. In fact, the troubles that resulted in the Kannur firing occurred when DYFI activists tried to block him from attending a function at Koothuparampu.

However, the CPI-M campaign against him seem to have resurrected Raghavan from the political oblivion that was forced on him by his defeat in the last assembly election. Raghavan's arrest is also sought in an attempt to kill MLA E P Jayarajan. Following his arrest, he has been getting enthusiastic support at all public meetings he addresses.

In a frank interview with D Jose in Thiruvanathapuram, Raghavan shares his bitter experiences at the CPI-M's hands. Excerpts from the interview:

You are being held responsible for the Koothuparampu police firing...

Charging murder cases against a minister in connection with a police firing is unheard of anywhere in the world. I was not even in charge of the police department and the inquiry commission never recommended action against me.

If the same logic is applied to E M S Namboodiripad, he should have been arrested for the 29 killings in police firings during his tenure as Kerala chief minister. In 1957, two pregnant women died during police firings -- he should have been prosecuted for that too.

E K Nayanar (the current chief minister) is doing all this to please the goonda elements in his party. If he is in anyway just, he would have initiated action against the DYFI workers -- after all, the inquiry commission had held them also responsible. The firing was the result of DYFI's blockade campaign against me. More than 4,000 activists were there, armed with lethal weapons, at the function I was to address.

But the Commission also pointed out that you insisted on attending the function, despite the police superintendent's warning to the contrary.

That is a big lie. I did not receive any such warning. If the SP was present at the spot and had done his duty, the firing could have been averted. He (the SP concerned) is now in league with the CPI-M -- the firing on Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh activists is proof of this. Additional District Magistrate C G Nambiar's report contains an actual picture of the incident. The chief minister is hiding the report as it will expose his party. They (the CPI-M leaders) are trying to suppress it by promoting Nambiar in party committees. But let the chief minister remember that only one copy of the report exists. If the party tries to replace the old report by a new fabricated one, I will show him the original.

The Commission had said that N Ramakrishnan, another minister who was to attend the function, avoided it on police advice.

That is wrong. Ramakrishnan decided not to proceed to the venue after he was informed of the police firing. All these matters can be verified. Unfortunately, the government registered the murder case without any investigation.How can you haul up somebody simply on the basis of an inquiry commission report?

Would you challenge that in court?

Since the entire case is coming before the court, what is the need for me to challenge a part of it? Everybody knows that it is a political arrest. I am sure the courts will support my position.

What do you have to say about the allegation that you conspired to kill E P Jayarajan?

They are trying to arrest me for conspiring his murder. How can I, sitting here, conspire an incident that took place in Andhra Pradesh? The government hatched the conspiracy theory after the Andhra Pradesh police refused to transfer the case here. Now there are six cases, including five under section 302, against me. I will face them politically as well as through the courts. Haven't you seen the overwhelming response I am getting from the people after my arrest?

Is the UDF firmly behind you in your fight?

Yes. All UDF constituents are behind me as one. Even Opposition leader A K Antony, who usually adopts a moderate position, is backing me whole heartedly.

Why is it so important (as you claim) for the CPI-M to ruin you?

The only way the Malabar lobby can cling on to power is by silencing me. They have been wanting to do it ever since my expulsion from the party after the Calcutta Congress. My arrest and the subsequent attacks on my meetings were done to appease the trade union lobby that has become hostile to Nayanar after he joined hands with the Achutanandan faction to scuttle Susheela Gopalan's election as chief minister. Nayanar can safeguard his position in the party only by pleasing the rowdy elements.

How can you charge Nayanar with running after power when he had opted out of the last elections?

That is a big joke. Nayanar is not only power crazy, but ready to do anything to remain in power. He threatened to quit the CPI-M when he was a refused a seat in 1967. He agreed to stay back only after A K Gopalan conceded his demand. In 1985, he ditched me and other colleagues to become the party secretary. It was he who had come up first with the alternate line proposing alliance with the Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress. He changed the line when the powerful Namboodiripad offered him the party secretaryship. We who persisted with it were thrown out.

Nayanar had no role in the Kerala's agrarian struggles. Yet, he projected himself as the hero of the Kayyur peasant uprising. He changed his line and joined hands with the trade union lobby to become the party secretary later. Now, in 1996, he betrayed the trade union wing and became the chief minister with Achutanandan's support.

You have charged him with amassing wealth. Are you still persisting with it?

Nayanar has not only amassed wealth, but promoted his relatives as any present-day politician does. I had said he constructed a bungalow at Kalasseri, his home town. Instead of denying it, he said he had no bungalow in Thiruvanathapuram. I still challenge him to prove he had not built a bungalow at Kalaserri and owns an estate.

He had helped his son's advertisement firm by offering government contracts. His son-in-law is the director of a public sector undertaking. There are more to expose. I will do it later.

How do you rate the performance of the the Nayanar government till now?

There is no governance. The police force is an indisciplined lot. The SP's writ does not run in a district.

This is the reason why political violence is increasing. As many as 25 persons have lost their lives in political incidents since May 1996. Look at the way two BJP men were killed by CPI-M rowdies. You can understand people dying in clashes. But murdering people who are sleeping at home is beyond political decency. Political rivals should be faced on an ideological plane, not through muscle power.

How do you see the future of the CPI-M

It is a dying party. There are no leaders to steer it into the future. It no more presents Communism, but Stalinism and Pol Potism. The earlier leaders had their commitment to the people; their personal integrity was beyond question. The party is now distancing itself from the people.

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