Don't utter a word about China: Pinarayi to Balram

Don't utter a word about China: Pinarayi to Balram
VT Balram, Pinarayi Vijayan, and characters Prakashan (Jayaram) and Prabhakaran (Sreenivasan) from Malayalam movie Sandesham.
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There will be moments when reality, because of the sheer cartoonisque quality it exhibits at times, upstages satire.

There was one such moment in the Assembly on Tuesday. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan looked as much hurt as Prabhakaran (Sreenivasan's character in Malayalam movie 'Sandesham') when young Congress legislator V T Balram mentioned China in unflattering terms.

Prabhakaran was stung even before his younger brother Prakashan (Jayaram) could say how Lech Walesa had brought Communism to its knees in Poland. “Don't utter a word about Poland. I don't like it,” a seething Prabhakaran said in the movie.

A clipping from Malayalam movie 'Sandesham'.

Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday looked appalled because V T Balram spoke of how people in Hong Kong were protesting Chinese meddling in the once British colony. Balram was moving an adjournment motion against the LDF government's move to establish a Police Commissionerate. “Such a system is in place only in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Communist countries that have no regard for human rights and democracy like Cuba, North Korea and China,” Balram said.

This led Balram straight to what was happening in Hong Kong. “A group of people who had tasted freedom under the British are now being sought to be put under Chinese fetters,” he said. Balram was referring to the new extradition law in Hong Kong that had triggered massive anti-government and anti-China protests in Hong Kong. Under the controversial law, suspects will be extradited to mainland China to be tried in courts there.

Pinarayi Vijayan, during his reply speech, expressed shock at what Balram said. “I just cannot understand why the honourable member spoke so badly about China. Why this blind hatred for China? The people on the other side (the opposition members) should introspect on the need for such hatred,” Pinarayi said. The chief minister's tone suggested that Balram had dealt a personal insult.

The CPM's fascination with China is a historical fact. In the early sixties, India's closeness to Soviet Union coincided with the rupture of Sino-Soviet ties. The Communist Party of Soviet Union had accused its Chinese counterpart of deviating from Marxist-Leninist principles.

Influenced by the global developments, Communist Party of India polarised along Russian and Chinese camps. Pro-Russian comrades accused China-inclined comrades of being revisionists, of straying from Marxist ideals. The rift intensified with the Indo-China war in 1962. A split was inevitable, and pro-China comrades broke away to form what is now the CPM.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala was apparently amused by the chief minister's touchiness. “Irrespective of whether it is America or China, we have to raise our voices whenever fundamental rights are violated,” Chennithala said. “The chief minister is possibly unaware of what is happening in Hong Kong now,” he added.

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