Haven't you heard? Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a flex board put up by CPM workers at Nedumkandam found a mention in 'North Korea Times'! Now before you laugh it off, it happens to be true. The online news agency from the communist dictatorship published a picture of Pinarayi along with the supreme leader of the country, King Jong-un.
'Kerala chief minister lauds North Korean president's anti-US stand,' the headline read. The Moscow-based 'Sputnik News' also turned the spotlight on Kerala, where CPM workers put up a flex board featuring the North Korean dictator. The media outlet said the communist party in India has replaced Marx and Lenin with Kim.
Kerala was trending in international news because of its ruling party's newfound affection for the dictator who terrorize the world with back-to-back testing of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Kim has a reputation for bumping off whoever comes in his way.
Still he is the new poster boy for the CPM. Pinarayi and party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan put to rest any suggestion that the poser at Nedumkandam was an aberration. Inaugurating the party conventions in various districts, both the leaders hailed Kim's guts to challenge Donald Trump's America. Kodiyeri's speech in Kasaragod was even termed as a birthday present for Kim.
Political observers, however, are not surprised. Two months ahead of the appearance of the strange-looking billboard at Nedumkandam, the CPM politburo had batted for Kim. A politburo meeting on September 20 observed that Trump’s threats to phase out North Korea would be futile.
When prime minister Narendra Modi deputed Kiren Rijuju, the minister of state for external affairs, to visit the North Korean embassy in Delhi on that nation's independence day in 2015, the delegation included CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury. Yechury had even led a three member parliamentary committee to North Korea in 2013.
E M S Namboodiripad had also visited North Korea during the times of the legendary Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the present president. "The CPM and the Korean Workers' Party were working together in those days. The party was close to the North Korean party even when the Soviet bloc and the Chinese party drifted apart," CPM state secretariat member M V Govindan said.
North Korea was bracketed together with China, Vietnam and Cuba as socialist states by Yechury's predecessor Prakash Karat in August 2000 in a speech in Delhi.
The CPM had started dissociating the North Korean regime even from the last days of King Il-sung. Yet the party does not mind patting the dreaded dictator for his belligerence.
The BJP was quick to cash in on the CPM stand. "Kim Jong-un finds place in CPM's posters in Kerala. No wonder they have converted Kerala into killing fields for their opponents," tweeted BJP national spokesman Sambit Patra.
When CPI leader Rajaji Mathew Thomas said Pinarayi was a dictator like Trump and Modi, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala quipped: "Do not forget Kim".
CPM leaders, however, are not apologetic. "We see North Korea as a symbol of resistance against US imperialism. There is no proof for the US propaganda against that country," Govindan said.
Is the CPM trying to capitalize on Kim's image, much like they did with assassinated Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
At just 36 years of age, Kim has caught the attention of the world by his mysterious personality and his position as the custodian of a massive arsenal. The CPM does not mind eulogizing him even when it warns of personality cults in its home turf.