Kerala CPM’s social boycott against rebel leader

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on August 19, 2011

The Kerala CPI(M) has imposed an undeclared social boycott on Berlin Kunhananthan Nair (86), a Marxist rebel who was expelled from the party in 2005. The move is part of the efforts to overcome the embarrassment the party suffered after octogenarian leader VS Achuthanandan visited Berlin at his home in Narath, Kannur on July 29, violating a party directive.

The top party leadership has given secret instructions to workers to ensure that nobody visits Berlin, suffering from several age-related health complaints, or goes for any work at his house. Berlin has been living under some kind of social excommunication by the Marxists, whose diktats are considered inviolable in several “party villages” of Kannur, since 2005.

This is the third time the CPI(M) has imposed boycott on Berlin. He had suffered it in 2005 after his expulsion from the party for calling for a new thinking in the organization. He became the victim of a boycott again later after his autobiography “Polichezhuthu” (Re-writing), in which he severely criticized the party, was published.

This time the boycott was declared following his criticisms against the party after
Achuthanandan’s visit to him. “It is painful to see the Marxist party going back to the age-old feudalist methods,” said Berlin. However, CPI(M) leaders said the report on the boycott was a figment of imagination of Berlin and some mediamen.

Achuthanandan had visited Berlin “on humanitarian grounds” despite the party’s objections. At Berlin’s house, he said openly that he would not have lunch there as there was a party ban. After Achuthanandan left, Berlin told the media that the octogenarian Marxist’s visit gave him strength to continue his fight against the corrupt elements and tendencies of the CPI(M).

Berlin had gone even to the extent of calling neo-liberalist leader Pinarayi Vijayan, party’s
State secretary, an adopted son of capitalism and imperialism. He also said that a new war would break out in the CPI(M) at its conferences which were to start in September, leading to the 20th party congress in April next.

Infuriated by this and other remarks of Berlin, the party leadership directed Achuthanandan to publicly decry the rebel leader, which he obeyed. However, Berlin said that he was unfazed by Achuthanandan’s statement because he knew he could not continue in the party had he not obeyed the directive.

Berlin said that he had been receiving telephonic threats for the past several weeks. “The callers would issue threats in such obscene language that I cannot repeat those words,” said Berlin. “I am 86. Why is the CPI(M) behaving with me so? Don’t I have the fundamental right to live? Don’t I have the freedom to criticize parties?” he asked.

However, CPI(M) leaders say they have not imposed any kind of restrictions on workers with respect to Berlin. “Why should we do that? Kunhananthan Nair does not figure in the scheme of things of our party. We are engaged in a fight against capitalism and imperialism. We have no time to think of Berlin amidst that,” said central committee member EP Jayarajan.

Meanwhile, the police decided to provide protection to Berlin and his house. The decision reportedly followed Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s instruction to the Superintendent of Police in the context of Intelligence reports that there was threat to Berlin’s life.

The Kannur CPI(M), considered the strongest district unit of the party in entire India, is known for its ability to rule over entire “party villages” in the district. Critics say that the CPI(M) used to practise the excommunication strategy against foes inside and outside the party but the frequency of such incidents had come down in recent times.

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