Politics of violence

published on June 5, 2012

“The Calcutta thesis” of the Communist party in 1949, which sought for elimination of class enemies is still a fashionable theory in party classes of the CPI(M) in northern Kerala

Being born and having lived in Kerala for 37 years, I often feel like laughing when home is described as “God’s own country”. This is how advertisement catch words infiltrate, invade and come to possess our minds. This decorative catch word was first used by Kerala Tourism’s advertisement campaign 15 years ago by, ironically, a Uttar Pradesh-bred Kerala cadre IAS officer — his name was Amitabh Kant.

We Malayalis lap up every honour, earned or otherwise, but are notoriously reluctant to recall perceptive albeit unflattering remarks made by distinguished observers. About 120 years back, Swami Vivekananda, while travelling through Travancore princely state, was horrified by the caste hierarchy in the province. He was so moved by the abuse of the backward communities by the self-styled “upper castes” that he left a label for Kerala which has somehow stuck — “lunatic asylum”.

Whether or not thanks to Swamy Vivekananda’s criticism, a process of change took momentum. This might have started the series of transformations in the social scene. Casteism, though still formidable, is today, in the second decade of the 21st century, a little less visible perhaps. “Progress”, as defined by Leftists and Marxist-Leninists, took shape through trade unionism and self-cleansing reform movements from the middle of the 20th century.

But the political arena failed to democraticise in the true sense of the term. Fractious caste politics, marked by a degree of violence matched only by the West Bengal experience, mocked the Malayalis’ claim to high status as a progressive people. Wherever the Communists went in India, they firmly planted the banner of “revolution” in the most convoluted sense of the term. To them, “change” meant destruction of body and soul of society, without a viable alternative in tow.

Thanks to the information revolution of the 1990s, the “little secrets” of Kerala politics have become national touchstones for political degradation. The brutal murder of Kannur schoolteacher Jaikrishnan Master right before his young students in December 1999 will always be counted as one of the lows of Indian democracy. Strangely, the CPI(M) defended the murderers all through.

The revelations of a district secretary, MM Mani, take the cake. This creature of Communist politics, did not think twice before boasting in full glare of TV cameras that his party

regularly used murder against political opponents. This only proves that somewhere in the corner of the collective Malayali mind, a devilish corner exists.

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