Marxist Party and tolerance

published on February 21, 2010

The Marxist Party has been under attack of late, albeit an attack with a difference. No, the reference is not to the months-old Achutanandan versus Pinarayi infighting. Readers would have rather not missed the news about a few legislators of the party rising in rebellion; notably they have spoken against the very paradigms of Communist ideology like atheism.

The latest in the lineup of leaders who are revolting against the party is the Kollam Mayor, Padmalochanan. The obvious charge against the Mayor, who is a senior leader of the party, is that he attended an RSS function and shared the dais with RSS functionaries.

Doubtlessly this is too much of a provocation for the CPI(M), a party that doesn’t miss any opportunity to decry the RSS, with their heroics ranging from daily press statements against the RSS to physical assaults on the functionaries of that organization. As expected the electronic media in Kerala has lapped up the transgression on the part of Kollam Mayor.

Traditionally the Communist parties in India have been very intolerant to political opponents. It won’t be untrue if someone says that their hatred for non-communist ideologies have put them at par with Pak Taliban as far as tolerance of pluralistic ideologies is concerned. A recent casualty of the Marxist Party’s intolerant behaviour is none other than their fellow traveller, Zakariah. The screaming face of Marxist leader Jayarajan, in front of TV cameras in Kannoor, is still fresh in public memory when he chose to shower invectives on the CBI for charging a case against Pinarayi Vijayan in connection with the Lavlin scandal.

Abdulla Kutty, once an ardent Marxist and young MP, was shown the door for his realistic views on the pace of development in Kerala in comparison to Gujarat.

In their strongholds in places like Kannoor, the CPI(M) doesn’t allow even other left parties to operate and flourish, let alone ideological opponents. In fact the CPI has been at the receiving end of CPI(M)’s big-brotherly attitude for many years.

It is quite paradoxical that a party that stands for so-called societal progress and scientific temperament in all spheres of human life squirms and frets like the Taliban when confronted with opposing ideological viewpoints.

From a layman’s perspective there is no harm in discussing and sharing ideological positions with anyone including political opponents. That is what democracy is all about. The Marxists need to understand that desertions from their party rank and file is not due to the activities of the party’s opponents. Rather, the Marxist ideology itself has been under strain – for obvious reasons, be it the incompatibility of communism with the inherent spiritual moorings of the Indian society or the withering away of communist regimes worldwide.

There is no alternative to dialogue and interactions in a democratic process. Being intolerant to a certain ideal only lends credence to the view that blind intolerance is the last resort of the defeated. And needless to say, when confronted with the stark reality of giving up in ideological discourses, people take to muscle power to cow down their political opponents.

If the history of most of the violent political clashes involving the CPI(M) is analysed impartially, it would become evident that this party has always been the initiator of the deadly clashes.

There is a growing feeling even among communist sympathizers themselves that the CPI(M) should abandon the path of violence and intolerance and take to the path of peaceful political discourse. The earlier the party’s top brass realises this reality, the better for the party and people in general

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