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Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021
Outlook.com
politics: CPI(m)

Storm On The Red Sea

The CPI(M) has a fight on its hands, and one of its own making. Has the party lost its moorings?

Storm On The Red Sea
A.S. Satheesh
Storm On The Red Sea
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Two And A Half Years That Left The CPI(M) Red-Faced

  • November 2006 The Sachar panel report on Muslims reveals that the community is badly off in Left-ruled West Bengal.
  • March 14, 2007 Police firing in Nandigram kills 14 villagers protesting the setting up of an SEZ on their farmland. Liberal left-leaning intellectuals and right activist up in arms. The Nandigram episode is expected to haunt the Left in elections to come. It already took a toll in last year's panchayat elections.
  • September 21, 2007 The alleged murder of Rizwanur Rehman who eloped with the daughter of a rich well-connected Hindu businessman becomes a source of major embarrassment.
  • November 21, 2007 Violence erupts in Calcutta over Taslima Nasreen. Muslim groups wanted the writer-in-exile to leave the city. She leaves the following day.
  • July 8, 2008 After weeks of dithering, Left withdraws support to the UPA government over the N-deal. Left wants Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to quit. But he hangs in. UPA later wins trust vote.
  • October 3, 2008 Tatas pull out Nano project from Singur, shift to Gujarat. A big blow to the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government.
Meanwhile In Kerala...
  • September 2006 CM Achuthanandan urges the Centre for a CBI probe into the Kiliroor sex scandal allegedly involving the sons of two CPI(M) ministers belonging to the Pinarayi Vijayan camp.
  • December 2006 CM feigns ignorance of an ADB loan negotiated by the local self-government department for city corporations. The politburo intervenes and pushes the loan.
  • December 2006 CM directs IG Rishiraj Singh to raid a CD unit run by the wife of an officer close to Pinarayi camp. The DGP calls off the raid.
  • May 2007 CM sends three handpicked officers to the Munnar hills to bulldoze illegal constructions. Part of the local CPI office razed. The mission is later aborted.
  • November 2008 Political secretary to the Kerala CM visits the Bangalore house of Maj Sandeep Unnikrishan, martyred in 26/11. But he never lets it be known that he has come at the government’s behest, resulting in a huge embarrassment for the CM. He later visits but is sounded off...which led to the infamous "dogs wouldn’t visit" comment.
  • January 2009 CBI sends request to Kerala governor R.S. Gavai for sanction to prosecute Pinarayi. This sharpens the divide.
  • February 2009 As a pressure tactic, VS keeps off Pinarayi’s much- touted Nava Kerala Yatra.

***

In 2004, the CPI(M)-led Left parties had a dream run, touching an all-time high of 62 Lok Sabha seats across six states: this included 35 out of 42 in West Bengal and 18 out of 20 in Kerala. The results—especially from Kerala—had, at the time, taken even the Left parties by surprise. Now, with just two months left for the next general elections, the CPI(M) is facing a serious crisis of credibility in these two bastions, even as it is engaged at the national level in trying to build an anti-Congress, anti-BJP third alternative. If in Bengal, the party's inept experiments at industrialisation have alienated its minority base, in Kerala, factionalism has lent an edge to a major scam involving the party's state boss, giving the Opposition a field day.

Indeed, in Kerala, the CPI(M) leadership is trying hard to dismiss the CBI's request to prosecute state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, calling it "politically motivated". Pinarayi is an accused in the SNC-Lavalin power scam from his days as power minister in the E.K Nayanar government from 1996-2001. The CPI(M) points out that after a vigilance inquiry initiated by the UDF government yielded nothing, the then Congress CM Oommen Chandy had in 2006—on the eve of the assembly elections—asked the CBI to step in. In the elections that followed, the LDF came back to power, thus proving (they say) that the attempt to corner the Left had been rejected by the people. CPI(M) leaders add that with polls around the corner, the Congress—with help from its government at the Centre—is trying to resurrect the case.

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