As Kerala goes to yet another Lok Sabha election, the spotlight is again on a nonagenarian.
For a beleaguered and tattered, but on the face of it belligerent, CPM has no other option but to fall back on the “wayward comrade”, V.S. Achuthanandan. The greatest mystery is “the man himself — where he had come from, where he was going, why he did what he did”.
It is very unlikely that the comrades from Kannur in north Kerala have read much of Marx. Of course, they are not in the business of reading. The public in Kerala knows it well. It was Karl Marx who wrote: “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present.”
That sums up the predicament of the present CPM leadership in Kerala. With Bengal gone for all practical purposes, the central leadership, the mandarins who preside over a party in its death throes at AKG Bhavan in New Delhi, are banking solely on Kerala.
If they do not win handsomely from this backyard of communism, the party is bound to be relegated to the second division, which in all probability is going to happen.
The Left Front, of which the CPM is the big brother, is at present in a tight spot. The Revolutionary Socialist Party, which has stood firmly with it for the past 35 years, has parted ways with the Front. They have created a revolution of sorts by walking across to the Congress-led United Democratic Front.
The big brother, for all purposes, the state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, has to allot four seats, winnable or not, to one of its allies, the CPI. After the RSP fiasco, another nonentity in the name of Janata Dal (S) demanded its pound of flesh and got it too.
That the party is yet to find a candidate in Kottayam, a stronghold of the Kerala Congress which is part of the UDF and from where the party boss’s son Jose K. Mani is the sitting MP, is another joke. Till the time of going to press, the rumour is that the party is yet to zero in on a candidate!
So the CPM is left only with 15 seats. There seems to be a paucity of comrades these days in the state. Otherwise, how can one explain the party putting up candidates who have nothing to do with Marxist ideology from Ponnani in the north, Ernakulam and Chalakudi in the south?
Of these, Chalakudi takes the cake. A known industrial suburb where the party had and still has some grassroots workers, it has decided to put up a celluloid comedian, Innocent. This is the height of alienation from reality.
They say public memory is short. But not many in Kerala would have forgotten the fate of the evergreen celluloid icon of the Malayalis, Prem Nazir, who bit the dust in Chirayankeezh, his home ground, when he tested electoral waters a few decades ago.
And with the murder of rebel CPM leader T.P. Chandrashekaran looming large over Kerala, the CPM as a political organisation is squarely on the defensive. Though some of its leaders try to convince the cadre that TP had committed suicide by inflicting “51 sword cuts on himself”, the public doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Pinarayi Vijayan and his cohorts seem to under a spell of mythomania. Perhaps this election will wake them up. That will be the saner probability. Unless, good old Achuthanandan waves his magic wand. But that is a big If.