Cracks appear to have started showing even as the CPM machinery is being readied for the Women Wall on January 1 to uphold the spirit of renaissance and give it a rebirth.
One thing that is set to trigger the opposition to the wall is the sexual assault charge against Shoranur legislator PK Sasi and the anti-victim stand taken by the party, revealed through the probe report.
Renowned writer MT Vasudevan Nair fired the first salvo when he refused to share the dais with Sasi at a government function in Palakkad. MT was to inaugurate a state-level education programme where Sasi would be presiding. MT informed the authorities of his inability to attend the function, though he cited ‘personal’ reasons. Earlier, requests went to MT not to share the dais with Sasi.
Though the party may pretend not to read the message MT conveyed, the undercurrents are strong. The central leadership succumbed to the state leadership decision to suspend Sasi from the primary membership of the party for six months. Though as comic relief it said that he should not be given the positions he held when he returned. The state leadership is sure that despite the 'very harsh’ six-month punishment, Sasi would return to the party fold after the period for reform as he is MLA and also its 'strength’’ in Palakkad.
Ironically, Sasi was the group captain in Palakkad for the runup to the renaissance campaign. The double-face was best portrayed in the report of the two-member party probe committee which was so one-sided making Sasi an angel. But for some talk over the phone which should not have come from the stature of a senior leader and could damage the party's reputation, there is no serious charge against Sasi.
The report also accuses the victim, a DYFI leader, of being very 'social’ and mingling freely with men and women. This charge against a woman leader comes when the party has been claiming that there has to be no gender discrimination and young women like all men should be treated equally and allowed to go to Sabarimala and even has posted a huge police force for this.
As a party insider in Palakkad said, the way the party has been vociferously fighting for women in the Sabarimala issue, it could well lead a women's march to Sabarimala than build a wall.
Writer Sara Joseph was the first to react saying that she would not join the wall because of the shabby way in which the the Sasi episode was handled. Actor Manju Warrier, who initially showed enthusiasm, has announced that she will not be party to the wall as there was politics behind the initiative.
Beyond the Sasi issue comes, party veteran VS Achuthanandan, who wanted the central leadership to intervene and take strict action in the Sasi case, to raising concern over the ‘Women wall’ issue in association with caste organisations. This, he felt, was compromising on the ideological position of the party for mere electoral gains.
Upholding communist principle by allying with caste organisations for the second renaissance was a short-cut for electoral gains. Caste politics was dangerous, he warned and called for an 'intellectual’ fight against divisive forces represented by the BJP-Sangh Parivar groups.
He pointed to the recent Assembly elections, which he saw as a result of a political shift where issues of labourers and peasants were important. The party leadership should hold a separate meeting to evolve a strategy for this.
Things do not augur well for the party and literary, cultural and political activists could soon follow MT, Sara, Manju and VS before the January 1 wall which reeks of communalism.