CPM leaders' bourgoise deviations come under scanner

For, in a state like Kerala, many of these deviations that are now being sought to be set right for the cadres should be seen in the context of the transition that the party itself is undergoing.

The new campaign comes not merely in the backdrop of the party’s top leader, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan being arraigned for corruption. The CPM has adopted a corporate culture under the stewardship of Vijayan in the last one decade ignoring opposition from the old guards. It is perhaps the only political party in the country to own shopping malls, superspecialty hospitals and amusement parks.

That it was one of the first parties to start television channels is history. Reports say work is progressing on a five star hotel in Kozhikode. When confronted with these ground realities, general secretary Prakash Karat has always been evasive maintaining that the party “does not directly own these assets’’ including the Kairali and People TV channels.

The observations in the rectification document adopted at the politburo which met in New Delhi on October 11 are scathing enough to shake the state leadership. It said some leaders were not leading a life according to the party ideology and that “corruption, nepotism and influence of money have crept into the party mechanism”. Party mouthpiece ‘Deshabhimani’ was in the thick of controversy two years ago when it was revealed that it had accepted Rs 2 crore donation from lottery kingpin Santiago Martin. The embarrassing fact was that the party led by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had waged a war against the lottery mafia when he was the Opposition leader. In a face-saving exercise, the party returned the donations to Martin on the directions of the central leadership.

Such gross double standards coupled with the party’s growing corporate culture have added impetus to the ideological war between the progressives led by Vijayan and the traditionalists led by Achuthanandan. The party was forced to take action against the chief minister by ousting him from the politburo only when the challenge that he threw became too embarrassing at one point.

Achuthanandan still commands the admiration of a large number of party cadres who swear by communist values because of his persistent opposition to the neoliberal and bourgoise tendencies that have crept into the party.

The fact that no other leader in the history of Communist party has ever been allowed to continue in the party by waging a war from within for so long speaks volumes of the crisis that has gripped the CPM.

In this context, the party will be in a tricky situation in the state as it approaches cadres with the rectification document since it has to explain the context in which it has been prepared. The document also speaks about the lack of clarity on collection of funds, acceptance of gifts and flashy lifestyle of the cadres and leaders.

The incident of State Health Minister P K Sreemathy appointing her daughter-in-law in her personal staff as a cook and then promoting her as an additional personal assistant within a year is now being cited as an example of favouritism.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Binoy Kodiyeri bidding and winning a fancy number for his Toyota Innova at an auction is being pointed out as a sign of flashy lifestyle. The fact that these incidents are not just ‘aberrations’ can be gauged by that famous statement of party leader E P Jayarajan who is also a strong supporter of Pinarayi Vijayan. According to Jayarajan, it would be foolish to “expect communists to consume parippu vada and black tea any more as in the days of yore.’’

It’s true that in the good old days, Indian communists lived in spartan dwellings and ate at a common mess as their whole life was dedicated to building a classless society. The new trends show that consumerism has made great inroads into the life of communists and made their ‘radical’ lifestyle unfashionable.

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