Feud in CPM affects Kerala’s progress

via VR Jayaraj | Kozhikode - Daily Pioneer published on December 30, 2008

Development projects, State’s administration, very vital food scene and price stability were the worst victims of the protracted faction war between neo-liberalists and the traditionalists in the CPI(M), heading the LDF collation that rules the State, say representatives of different sections of the society.

Even CPI(M) insiders agree that Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, heading a 19-member coalition Cabinet, had not got time and opportunity to act in his capacity for the 31 months he has been in power, especially in the past year as much of his time was taken away by worries about his party enemies’ moves to sabotage his initiatives as head of Government.

On the other hand, the neo-liberalists in the party, represented in the Cabinet mainly by TM Thomas Isaac in Finance, MA Baby in Education and Elamaram Kareem in Industries, were worried about the ways to take their programmes forward by bypassing the Chief Minister who would never allow initiatives with capitalist overtones to be implemented, they say.

To complicate things further and to complete the stalemate in the State administrative front, second biggest coalition partner CPI at times brought up its own objections to the programmes devised by the CPI(M).

Economists and sociologists say that the losses suffered by the State amidst this multi-pronged war of egos and interests were immense. The Rs 15-billion Smart City Kochi project, the Rs 1,300-crore State-pioneered Food Security Programme, the Rs 1,839-crore Kuttanad rejuvenation package and the ambitious initiative to retrieve thousands of acres of public land encroached by private parties are just some of the victims of this war, they point out.

Political economists say that the CPI(M) has always claimed that the faction war in the party has in no way affected the State administration, but facts speak otherwise. Even 13 months after laying the foundation stone for the Smart City Kochi project, which is supposed to give direct employment to 90,000 persons in ten years, Tecom, the Dubai-based promoter, still does not know about the actual Special Economic Zone Status of the project because the neo-liberalist CPI(M) Ministers continue to contradict what the Chief Minister says about this.

They also point out that the CPI(M) is not even sure about the methods of finding resources for the much needed basic development projects in the infrastructure sector. “When economist Finance Minister Isaac said private capital was inevitable for development Achuthanandan responded by saying that those who thought private capital could bring development were living in a fool’s paradise. This proves that the CPI(M) itself cannot reach a firm decision on even the most basic matters of State administration. In all likelihood, such discussions could go on for the rest of the LDF’s term in rule,” said RK Soman, a Kozhikode-based political economist.

They (Marxists) have more serious things of their own interest to consider. The party is in two levels even over its own projects like the Vismaya amusement park in Kannur and the proposed five-star hotel in Kozhikode. One side wants a capitalist way of life and politics while the other is still trapped in the dogma of classical Marxism though not without aberrations. And the biggest problems is the central leadership with general secretary Prakash Karat at the helm is all the more confused,” Soman said.

If rows in the CPI(M) had thus stalled almost all development projects, the CPI-CPI(M) standoff had contributed to the stalling of several other programmes. “Nobody knows what happened to the Food Security Programme over which the CPI(M) and the CPI fought for several months while the simple issue was who should chair the panel to be constituted for this. And the extension of such rows was the reason for the failure of the Government to take up the Kuttanad rejuvenation programme in time,” Soman said.

Economists and political observers are of the feeling that it is high time the CPI(M) took action to limit the intra-party feuds to AKG Centre, the party’s State headquarters. “It is not just a matter of the performance of the party in the coming Lok Sabha elections. We have all the right to lose the lection badly. But we don’t have the right to take the people for granted. I don’t know when they (the warring factions) will understand this,” said a former State committee member of the CPI(M)

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