The recent CPM state committee meeting, convened exclusively to review the performance of the 10-month-old Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government, put forth a highly confidential proposal stressing the need to take every possible measure to ensure continuity of this government.
The suggestion figured in the report tabled by state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on behalf of the party state secretariat.
The state secretary, spelling out the achievements and failures of the government said: “The government has to work out a plan to ensure its continuity. To achieve this, the promises made in the election manifesto, including the democratic alternative set of policies, need to be implemented without fail. The government needs to embark on a time-bound mission for the smooth and fast implementation of these policies.”
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However, members of the state committee and even politburo member M. A. Baby who looked forward to a change in the style of governance to achieve that objective, were in for a shock, thanks to the government's ill-conceived police policy.
Doubts have started lingering in the CPM and the LDF camp about their chances in the next assembly elections. An air of distrust could also be felt among allies and left leaders.
The same family which had begun the year sighting Pinarayi Vijayan's photo as 'vishukani' had to resort to hunger strike against his government less than a year's time. The government's well-wishers justify Pinarayi Vijayan's stance by terming the family's gesture as a mere emotional act. Don't Communists believe in passionate politics and human emotions?
Obviously, the way the police handled the agitation launched by Jishnu Pranoy’s mother Mahija and the chief minister’s justification of the police action have led to contentious debates across the state.
It cannot be denied that after becoming the chief minister there is a palpable change in the way Pinarayi Vijayan carries himself. He has been trying to be gentle, thoughtful and approachable. Also, deliberate efforts have been made to change his image of a short-tempered and unapproachable person.
However, whenever the government confronts a crisis or comes under fire, he suddenly throws off his chief minister garb and slips into the old party secretary’s clothes, even those close to him admit.
Issues that could be resolved with basic common sense are dealt with gargantuan power. Instead of silencing his critics or going in for image boost by visiting a mother who was physically and emotionally hurt, Pinarayi refused to budge from his stance, and moreover, stubbornly threw his weight fully behind the police department. After all these stiff-necked acts, he would demand support of both party and the front!
In the meantime, CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran visited Mahija and sent a strong reply to Prakash Karat who recently reminded his party that ‘they were no longer in the opposition.’
Pinarayi Vijayan’s politburo colleague Brinda Karat is known for her relentless battles against police atrocities on women across the country. When three members of the party’s youth wing were beaten up by the police during a rally in Kolkata recently, she was the one who took up the issue and approached the National Women’s Commission and ensured justice to the victims. She was more vocal than any other leader in criticizing Karnataka home minister G. Parameshwara after he blamed the sexual assault on a girl in Bengaluru on her ‘Western wear’.
Now the question is what will be her stance in the Mahija issue? Will it be the same as that of Prakash Karat who justified Pinarayi Vijayan saying that government acted promptly and effectively?
The conspiracy theory cooked up by the police to save their face after the incident at the police headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram has also become the butt of jokes. Activists Shajir Khan and his wife Mini, who were arrested for taking part in the protests, had accompanied Mahija when she went to the secretariat to air her grievances to the chief minister.
K. M. Shajahan, former additional private secretary of V. S. Achuthanandan, who had been let off during the agitation at the Law Academy in Thiruvananthpuram would be wondering why was he jailed for being part of a demonstration purely out of sympathy!
Swami Himawal Bhadrananda aka ‘Thokku Swami’ who went to the DGP office to complain against police atrocities came to know about his ‘suspicious role’ in the agitation only when the chief minister named him.
Nevertheless, the CPM is facing such a dire situation where even Achuthanandan, who has been the key campaigner for the Left in elections of late, could not pull a decent crowd in Malappuram the other day.
The party has also taken seriously the studied silence maintained by a section of its cyber warriors.
Interestingly, even Bineesh Kodiyeri has realized that the party is now in such dire straits and posted on his Facebook page this words of wisdom to the surprise of many. “Good relationship with the public and commitment to their causes are two qualities that set good politicians apart.”
There were several instances of police actions under this government, beginning from the killing of two Maoists in an alleged shoot-out in Nilambur forests, that opened the floodgates of criticism against the police force from various quarters.
The party has proposed the appointment of an adviser to the Home Department to show the force the right path, but will that be enough? Is a new home minister in the offing? Will the chief minister himself initiate such a reformative action?
Unfortunately, what DGP Loknath Behera and his force achieved is triggering such public debates in a state where a new government took charge just 10 months ago.