It was a meeting, by some chance, with a young enthusiast of the CPI(M) in Erode last week. Balaji, being his name, will become a member of the party soon. He has passed the first two stages before one is made a party member and his enthusiasm to speak about the party and its virtues is such that he refuses to accept that there are certain developments in the CPI(M) that are not good to its health.
All the bad things that one hears about the CPI(M), according to him, are tales peddled by the class enemies. And that includes such reports about faction feuds in the Kerala unit of the party. Balaji refused to concede that it was not proper for N.N.Krishnadas, CPI(M) MP from Pallakad, to have been to The Taj in Mumbai for a meal. He is, however, relieved that his comrade escaped unhurt during the terror strike in that expensive hotel. The surprise element was that this young comrade did not tell me that Comrade Krishnadas was behind killing all the terrorists in the Taj and saving the nation.
Well. No matter what Balaji believes in, the fact is that the CPI(M) central committee, that met in
It is significant that the present round of battle in the CPI(M)’s Kerala unit has nothing to do with ideological positions. Both Pinarayi Vijayan and Achutanandan are in perfect agreement over participating in elections, forming coalitions to wield power and that the Congress party is a lesser evil than the BJP. They also agree that there is nothing wrong with the setting up of SEZs and that the killings in Nandigram were in order. They also agree that the Indo-US nuclear deal was bad and the CPI(M) could not have continued support to the UPA even after the deal was confirmed.
Now, this leads us to raise the most important question. What is it that makes the two leaders fight with each other and take the battle into the public domain? Notwithstanding Balaji’s belief that there is no such fight between the two leaders, we all know that Pinarayi and Achutanandan were kept under suspension from the Politburo for a few months sometimes ago. And this action was taken because they were throwing mud at each other in the public. And the party told them that being members of the CPI(M), they could fight with each other but only inside the party forum! In other words, it is a fact, conceded by the party itself, that the two leaders are in the habit of fighting with each other.
It is also a fact that the followers of these two leaders too fight with one another and the various district conferences of the party during 2007-08 were the stage where the battle was fought. And the war, in the final stage, was won by Pinarayi Vijayan along with such illustrious men in the Kerala cabinet as M.A.Baby, Thomas Isac and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
In the absence of any explanation from the party and its leaders as to what was the issue on which these battles were fought and the war was won by Pinarayi Vijayan, there is no other way but to conclude that the party is riven by factions and the two major factions, as it is, are represented by Pinarayi and Achutanandan. It is also significant in this context that the Achutanandan faction is now in a hopeless minority within the party but a strong force outside.
When I say this, I must explain what it means. Those loyal to Achutanandan have been expelled from the party, in hordes during the past couple of years, and the party organisation is now a fiefdom of Pinarayi Vijayan. They all enjoy the fruits of power too. Most of them ride in Government cars with beacon lights and run the affairs of the state as well as the temples! The Achutandan supporters, meanwhile, have grouped into a political formation and contested a by-election to a local body in Shoranur recently. The significant fact is that their candidate won the election and established that they are still strong outside the party organisation.
This indeed is cause for worry insofar as the CPI(M) leaders are concerned. And more so because the expelled partymen are raising and publicizing acts of impropriety by the leaders including Pinarayi Vijayan and the sons of the prominent ministers in the cabinet. The scandalous SNC-Lavalin deal and reports of criminal acts involving the sons of at least three ministers in the Kerala cabinet are instances of this. The CPI(M) has reasons to be worried. It is another matter that Balaji, whom I met in Erode last week, is not ruffled by any of these but is angry and even worried that someone like me, after he discovered to his horror, was an old associate of the party, is now convinced that there is a lot of things wrong about the CPI(M) and that includes the killing of 14 people in Nandigram simply because they dared to fight against the Government to protect their land being handed over to the Salem group from Indonesia.