King Henry II's plaintive plea about the then Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" seems to find resonance in the manner in which CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has been trying to banish Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan. But unlike in the case of the portly king who was successful in his endeavour, Mr Achuthana-ndan, like Banquo's ghost at the banquet, refuses to go away into the twilight. So, after denying him a ticket, the politburo has had to reverse its decision and make conciliatory noises.
This is just as well for a party which lacks a bit of colour, unless you count politburo member Brinda Karat's sartorial tastes. The 87-year-old CM still wows the crowds in the state. In fact, T-shirts bearing his likeness are selling like hot cakes. The message to the party is clear, loosen up a bit. Mr Karat is known to issue his now reversible edicts with the seriousness of the Pope delivering the encyclical discourse. Now we don't expect the ascetic Mr Karat to start cracking Sardarji jokes or dancing the Macarena, but it would not be too much to expect a little political savvy when it comes to dealing with the party's dwindling number of vote-catchers.
The Left should learn a lesson or two from its bete noire Mamata Banerjee's flamboyant and often totally irrational behaviour. Tell us honestly, who would you rather spend an evening with? The icy Mr Karat who would no doubt lecture you on the virtues of a classless society or the flaky Ms Banerjee with her unintelligible hyperbole? But then, with all this we are probably making Mr Karat see red. And full Marx to us for that.