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Pink is the new red

Only a month away from the assembly elections in Kerala, the opposition Left Front looks all ready to explode in the face of the electorate. The turmoil centres around the state CPI(M)?s decision to deny VS Achuthanandan a party ticket.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 00:18 IST
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Only a month away from the assembly elections in Kerala, the opposition Left Front looks all ready to explode in the face of the electorate. The turmoil centres around the state CPI(M)’s decision to deny senior politburomember and residing dinosaur VS Achuthanandan a party ticket in the coming polls. Being a dinosaur — and a communist dinosaur to boot — has, however, not stopped sections of the party from coming out of the woodwork in support of the Kerala CPI(M)’s only surviving founder-member. We can see the scuffle in terms of inner-party politics. Or, as a moderates vs hardliners battle to the death. Effectively, it’s a bit of both. While Mr Achuthanandan holds on to his single USP of spewing anti-bourgeoisie, anti-imperialist rhetoric to the applause of the dyed-in-the-wool comrades, the CPI(M) in Kerala has been moving closer to the West Bengal — or should we say Chinese? — model of pink-hued capitalism.

Mr Achuthanandan and his supporters have been flailing about for survival for quite some time. In a context that finds the state party running commercial TV channels, building amusement and theme parks and world-class (in hardline communist-speak: anti-people) hospitals, evoking the terrors of imperialism, feudalism and Big Business seems to be getting diminishing returns. If Jyoti Basu had to make way for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to infuse new blood into the CPI(M) in West Bengal — and deliver the state from complete economic moribundity — it seems only logical for the Kerala Left to pin its hopes of returning to power on anyone but Mr Achuthanandan.

The family feud in Kerala also tells a bigger story. The fact that CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat could do little during the party state committee meeting suggests that even the nation’s favourite ideologue knows that a more pragmatic variety of communism is necessary the further away you are from the ramparts of Delhi. The national media love playing up the ‘Che factor’ in India’s communists. But if they care to look beyond the posturing, the placards and the soundbites, they will find communists of a different hue in places where the Left actually play a more demanding role than professional ‘conscience keeper’. For in Bengal — and increasingly in Kerala — the comrades know that praxis is a different ballgame altogether from theory.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 00:18 IST