Who is Lenin and what is he doing in India? The country had to encounter this question from several corners early this month after BJP activists bulldozed a statue of the Russian Communist revolutionary in Tripura after their party's stupendous victory in the assembly elections in the tiny state.
The spirit of vandalism was charged up by top BJP leaders who endorsed the act of razing down Lenin's statue. While BJP MP Subramanian Swamy hailed the destruction, calling Lenin a 'terrorist', senior leader H Raja called for the destruction of the statues of Dravidian icon of Tamil Nadu, Periyar E V Ramasamy as well.
"Who is Lenin? What is his connection with India? What is the connection between Communism and India? Lenin's statue was broken down in Tripura. Today, it is Lenin's statue in Tripura. Tomorrow, it will be the caste zealot EV Ramasamy's (Periyar) statue in Tamil Nadu," he tweeted.
Tripura governor Tathagata Roy and senior BJP leader Ram Madhav also tweeted in approval of the dislodging of the statue of the Communist hero.
Lenin may be a political rival, if not stranger, to many. But in Kerala, the state known for its Communist leanings, Lenin is almost a household name, literally. Perhaps the most celebrated Lenin of Kerala is award-winning filmmaker Lenin Rajendran. However, we could not find the story behind his name since he was hospitalised.
Onmanorama spoke to a few of the Lenins of Kerala and tried to figure out the roots of their revolutionary name. Here's what we heard.
Lenin KD, cyclist, North Paravoor:
(Originally Lenin, officially Leju)
My father, a staunch follower of communism named me Lenin. Unfortunately, the authorities of Government Higher Secondary School, North Paravoor, hesitated to admit me because of my name. "We cannot take a student named Lenin. Names ending with 'ju' is the new trend," they said. Thus, they named me Leju. I am named Leju in all my official records. I have been sidelined everywhere, right from my childhood, because of this name. Yet, this name gave me a unique identity which makes me stand apart in the crowd.
Lenin Raj, video editor, Vazhoor:
(The Lenin with a responsibility)
My mother named me Lenin. Both my parents are active workers of CPM. I am also a young comrade aspiring to build a good political career. My name shaped my personality. I have always been warned not to spoil the revolutionary's name by getting involved in mischievous activities. A casual inquiry of name is followed by a series of questions to check my knowledge of history. So it became inevitable for me to read books and grab knowledge about the revolutionary, his principles and communism at large. I have felt that my opinions are valued in the party meetings just because of my name. When someone says "Look, Lenin has something to say!" everybody becomes silent and listen to me.
Lenin Vijayan, research scholar, JNU:
(Lenin, brother of Lemu)
It is my grandfather K Kumaran, a local politician, who named me and my brother. My elder brother is named Lemu, after a well-known revolutionary from Congo. I would have been a follower of communism even without this name. But now, people take me as a communist for granted, which, for me, is a good thing. However, I don't think a true communist can emerge from the cultural premises of Kerala. It is as a part of their journey towards communism that people opt peripheral identities related to the movement.
Lenin Kottappuram, photographer, Thripunithura:
(Lenin who hates his name)
I don't think my father named me for his fascination for communism. He is layman who has been into work and family only. He named me Lenin because the names of all my family members started with L. It was just the name which impressed my family not the person who made it famous. I am not a supporter of communist ideology. Yet, every time I go to a polling booth, CPM members receive me and accompany me till the restricted area. They add my vote in their exit poll without even asking me. I am taken for granted as a communist. I have showered my anger on my family several times for giving me such an alien name. I have always been noticed by the teachers and seniors wherever I studied.
Are you a Lenin too? Or do you know one? Let us know those stories as well. Comment it below the story.