The Left Democratic Front(LDF) Government police caning a Left legislator and breaking his left arm can be interpreted in different ways, but only pointing to the growing schism among partners in the ruling front.
There can be the reminiscence of the 60s when the Left was in power and had the policy of administration and agitation going together. CPIM activists were often beaten by the police during protests and strikes. When the Opposition Congress used to raise this issue, pat was the reply from CPIM agitators like a refrain, "If our police beat us, what is your problem, Congress?"
CPI legislator from Muvattupuzha Eldo Abraham had a fractured arm after he was beaten by the police during a lathicharge in Kochi on Tuesday. The CPI had organized a protest, fallout of the goondaism leashed out by CPIM student’s arm SFI across campuses in the State. The culmination of this happened last week at the Thiruvananthapuram University College where an SFI activist was stabbed by the organisation leaders on the campus on the ground that he sang loudly. This spilled to other parts of the State and the clash between activists of SFI and CPI’s student arm AISF in a college at Vypeen in Kochi saw a few students of the latter be admitted to a hospital.
CPI district secretary P Raju, a former MLA, during his visit to the hospital was blocked by the activists of the CPM youth arm DYFI. Finally, police booked a few AISF leaders for the campus violence and the CPI took out a march to the DIG’s office in Ernakulam which resulted in this violence. When the agitators tried to break the police barricade, they were mercilessly beaten by the police. Water cannons were used. Another CPI leader too suffered grievous injuries.
It was just a day ago that the Congress arm KSU students on an agitation outside the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram were thrashed by the police during the protest against the University College violence. Police not only used water cannons but also burst teargas shells, leaving many Injured.
But in the Kochi police caning, there is an altogether different political dimension. It is an open fight between two constituents of the ruling front that will not only tarnish the image of the Government but also widen the growing rift between the CPI and the CPIM.
Ever since 1967 when the CPI became part of the CPM-led front, there have been charges of CPIM playing the 'big brother'. It was only for a short period between 1969 and 1978 that the two were in opposite camps.
The Kochi incident has been the result of simmering feud between the two parties in Ernakulum district for quite some time. This came out to the open through this protest.
A senior CPI leader told Pennews that action should be taken against the top cop in Vypeen who booked AISF activists and spared DYFI men involved in the violence outside the hospital. This, he alleged was because the circle inspector was once a CPIM man. Such postings had links like case of the main accused in the University College violence being first rank holder in the PSC selecting list of Civil Police Officers which is now being proved.
The agitation is expected to grow as the CPI has announced that if action was not taken against the CI, a pandal would be set up in front of the commissioner's office and party activists would sit in agitation. This would not only embarrass the Government but turn the CPI-CPIM relations more sour.
Already, the CPI agitation demanding the suspension of the Superintendent of Police in Idukki over the recent custodial death at Peerumedu in the district has blemished the Government.
But infight in the CPI is also reflected in these agitations as party secretary Kanam Rajendran, known till recently for his bold stances, phoo-phooed the Ernakulum caning incident saying it happens during protests and agitations. He had also distanced himself from the Idukki agitation by the party's district committee.
Ironically, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has ordered a probe into the police action. It remains to be seen how far the CPI can take forward its agitation against the 'big brother' as already the image of this Government is getting more sullied in front of the public.
A CPI leader was sarcastic over the Left police breaking the left arm of the CPI MLA, "During a vote in the Assembly, it's often the right arm that's raised. The police at least careful on this count."