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Is the CPI-M writing its obituary in Kerala?

June 01, 2012 21:21 IST

'The CPI-M faces multiple investigations, with the CBI, the SIT and the Kerala police pursuing different cases. It is said as many as 70 to 90 CPI-M leaders are under the scanner, and that as many as 30 of these leaders are under imminent danger of being arrested,' notes T V R Shenoy.

There was once a king so fond of his pet monkey that he appointed the animal as his bodyguard. One day a fly buzzed around the king as he lay sleeping. The monkey could not swat it away, so he angrily picked up a sword and slashed away. The fly escaped; the sleeping king did not.

And Vishnu Sharma concludes the Nripasevakavanara-katha with the observation, 'A king who seeks a long life should never keep foolish servants.'

Tradition says Vishnu Sarma composed the Panchatantra to teach the dullard princes Bahushakti, Ugrashakti, and Anantshakti some statecraft. Comrade Prakash Karat and Comrade Pinarayi Vijayan might, perhaps, consider lifting their noses out of the Marxist gospels long enough to benefit from the wisdom of an Indian text.

Didn't the CPI-M have enough trouble on its plate before Comrade M M Mani, the party's district secretary in Idukki and a Pinarayi Vijayan loyalist, made the headlines even on Hindi news channels? Ably seconded, one must say, by P Jayarajan, the CPI-M district secretary in Kannur, another Pinarayi Vijayan follower.

The CPI-M was already under suspicion in the murder of T P Chandrasekharan. Big Brother's command of the Left Front was beginning to crack, a fact demonstrated when R Selvaraj, the sitting CPI MLA, quit the party, quit the LDF, and quit the assembly to fight the Neyyatinkara seat again -- but on a Congress ticket this time. And, of course, Comrades Karat and Vijayan faced the perennial problem of reining in V S Achuthanandan.

The battles with V S Achuthanandan and R Selvaraj are political fights but metaphor turned into bloody reality when T Chandrasekharan was hacked to death on May 4, 2012. Suspicion immediately fell on the CPI-M, the party that T P Chandrasekharan had left to found the Revolutionary Marxist Party.

The Special Investigation Team has now arrested P P Ramakrishnan, a member of the CPI-M area committee in Thalassery, and Abhinesh alias Abhi, 28, a CPI-M worker. Could the net be spread wider?

The CPI-M faces multiple investigations, with the CBI, the Special Investigation Team, and the Kerala police pursuing different cases. It is said that as many as 70 to 90 CPI-M leaders are under the scanner, and that as many as 30 of these leaders are under imminent danger of being arrested. (Some, perhaps, are already in custody.) These CPI-M members may be district level, perhaps local level, leaders rather than those in the inner-most circle, but it points to a worrying trend.

The CPI-M organised a public meeting at Thodupuzha in a bid to wash away the stains caused by T P Chandrasekharan's murder. Comrade Mani then took the stage.

'Yes,' said M M Mani, 'We have killed the enemies of the CPI-M. We have shot, stabbed, and beaten them to death. A hit-list of party enemies was prepared and each of them was executed in that order. The CPI-M will kill those who deserve to be killed.'

M M Mani then spoke of how the CPI-M 'avenged' the death of one of its workers, Ayyappa Das, by murdering a Congressman, Balu. From an 'enemies list' of 13 people, M M Mani reportedly said, one was shot, one was stabbed, and a third was clubbed to death.

This, please remember, is not a confession made by a hired killer to the police behind closed doors. It is not an allegation levelled by the Congress. This was a public statement made by one of Pinarayi Vijayan's most fervent supporters.

How does this tie in with the murder of T P Chandrasekharan? According to M M Mani's logic, the CPI-M has never bothered to hide its violent side, and so if the party said that it was not involved in the Chandrasekharan assassination then it was indeed innocent!

Being a Pinarayi Vijayan loyalist, Comrade Mani criticised V S Achuthanandan for attending T P Chandrasekharan's funeral; rebels, he said virtuously, can never be good Communists. Those in the know say M M Mani was once in the Achuthanandan camp; did the break come when the then chief minister started his demolition drive?

The CPI-M apparently considers itself both judge and executioner. But in trying to absolve his party in the T P Chandrasekharan case hasn't M M Mani opened the door to investigating other murders?

Comrade Mani's colleague, P Jayarajan, the aforementioned CPI-M district secretary in Kannur, seemingly believes that such investigations are irrelevant anyhow.

On October 22, 2006, Muhammad Fazal was murdered in Thalassery, a few days after he left the CPI-M ranks. The Central Bureau of Investigation says those involved include Karayi Rajan, a member of the CPI-M's Kannur district committee, and Karayi Chandrasekharan, who is in the Thiruvangad local committee.

Comrade Jayarajan insists that this does not matter. The CPI-M's Kannur district secretary says the party will protect its members rather than hand them over to the police. P Jayarajan's position appears to be that the only investigation that counts is one made by the party itself.

Why bother to investigate at all? We have Comrade Mani's acknowledgment that, 'The party has a history of killing rivals.'

Prakash Karat and Pinarayi Vijayan are involved in all-too-public spats with the likes of V S Achuthanandan and R Selvaraj. Frankly, they have less to fear from their rivals than from their allies, the CPI-M district secretary in Idukki and the CPI-M district secretary in Kannur.

As Vishnu Sarma could you have told them, the wise king chooses his guards carefully.

'There is no such thing,' the Irish writer Brendan Brehan once said, 'as bad publicity.' Many politicians live by that adage. Very few remember the codicil that Brehan added -- 'except your own obituary.'

Comrade M M Mani and Comrade P Jayarajan have certainly achieved a blaze of publicity. But have they just written the first paragraph of their own party's obituary?

Please read more of Mr Shenoy's columns here.

T V R Shenoy