Two CPM workers have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The act came into effect in 1967 during Indira Gandhi's time. India's home minister Amit Shah introduced an amendment making it more robust. It was opposed by the CPM and the CPI in parliament. The Congress voted for it.
In Kerala, the CPI the second largest party has condemned the arrest which the maximun it can do. The CPM with Pinarayi Vijayan as chief minister, is bound to follow the party’s opinion, aired by party secretary Sitaram Yechury, his predecessor Prakash Karat and Kerala party chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and other Kerala leaders. To quote Karat's words, "I am sure the government will step in to do what is needful to undo the mistake.”
This is perceived as a blow to Pinarayi. The BJP has in this case supported Pinarayi, as it should have. The government of Kerala will have to undo the error it made. There is speculation that the arrest was with a view to divert the people's attention from the killing of some Maoists and the death of 2 teenage girls which occurred with CPM cadres involvement or cajole.
The arrest does not do good for the party's image. The first thing is that the Naxalites posed no threat to Kerala. It is no crime to have the pro -Naxalite papers the court has said. There is a feeling that the killing of Naxalites was an instance of the police shooting them in cold blood as the CPI has said. It is no offense to have pro-Naxalite views as long as they don't attack the people or throw bombs or fire at their opponents. The police should have arrested them and brought them to justice.
In this context it can be said as a newspaper said, in the Nagi Reddy bid to support a movement like the Naxals which Pinarayi Vijayan had supported and which was not okayed by the party leaders. In what is called the Calcutta thesis, of B T Ranadive the CPI had started a mass move against the Nehru government. It declared that it was intended to form a government of the people. The struggle was abandoned and the CPI corrected itself. Ranadive later became the CPM leader when the CPI split into 2 factions.
In Kerala the police seem to have become superior to the chief minister. How else do we explain the actions taken by them, that too when Pinarayi the man who is considered a chief minister par excellence, is in charge of the home ministry too. The performance of the police with Loknath Behera as the chief is what the people hold against the government. Perhaps one of the two bad thing one can hold against Pinarayi's government. The CM stood firm on Sabarimala. But he did nothing in the case of the dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite Christians.
This sort of action by the CPM does not gel with its ideology. As a party which swears by the people; as the chief minister he has to obey the central government. This is a situation which CPM in Kerala, the only party ruled state in India. Till date Pinarayi has got the support of the cadre. So superior was he in comparison with Kodiyerri , the party's secretary in Kerala. The CPM is bound to obey the party secretary, and Pinarayi was the party secretary for a long time. A comparison with EMS and Govindan Nair as the party secretary in the fifties is worth mentioning in this context. They had differences but they did not allow them to get public notice. Govindan Nair was called the Khrushchev of Kerala then and EMS Namboothiripad as chief minister of Kerala, always listened to Kerala's Khrushchev’s views. That is what the CPM and the CPI should recall.
The CPM is not a party like the Congress. This is something that Pinarayi and Kodiyeri should remember. Pinarayi seems to think he is besides being the chief minister, also the party chief. This reflects badly on the CPM, a cadre based party, and also on Kodiyeri. The party will decide on what action should be taken for the 2 arrested, and it looks like it will be a blow to Pinarayi's ego.
The two arrested have failed in the court and further court hearing is expected on their plea. I have no sympathy for the Naxalites but what was done to them, I feel shouldn't have been done, I feel. Especially when this goes against the party's ethos. Pinarayi should have thought about it. The party leaders, say the CPM's bitter enemies are watching every move. There is no point in being on the same page with the BJP. It leads to all kinds of rumours about Kerala government which the Congress is spreading and about which the BJP is silent.
Kerala is known as a state where news awaits people's attention for a short while and then it is forgotten. The fresh case will be heard soon and there will be a massive debate on the Supreme Court's judgment regarding the Ayodhya, the Sabarimala and the Rafale cases.
The facts and views in the article are those of the writer.