(MENAFN- Gulf Times) In one of the recent entries in this Diary, I had noted that 'communism in India is on borrowed time. Here's more to prove it.
The general secretary of the Communist Party occupies the highest chair of the party. This has been the case ever since the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czar of Russia in 1917.
India's communists were no different until China's Mao came along with his 'power grows from the barrel of the gun maxim that gained instant admiration from the dispossessed.
The general secretary's post carried the sort of veto powers that few political formulations enjoyed for the simple reason that communism had little faith in multi-party democracy per se.
Nevertheless, for the sake of survival, and also because the majority of Indians happened to believe democracy was the best for them, the communist played along.
If socialism was the bedrock of the Bolsheviks, at least initially, the communist leadership in India chose to apportion it somewhat frugally large dollops of it for the deprived and the desolate and in far more limited measures to themselves and their kith and kin.
In the name of distributing wealth the communists succeeded in distributing poverty. The 34 years of Marxist rule of West Bengal is living or is it dying testimony to this.
It did not take much for class segregation of the ruler and the ruled, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in their own parlance to visit India's communists whose raison d'etre, ironically, was to fight that very system.
In short, what started off as a noble, egalitarian movement degenerated into an abject self-aggrandising party of power elites. The great unwashed remained just that even as the leadership indulged in corrupt practices of the worst kind. What was once a pan-India party that harboured ambitions of replacing the Indian National Congress got reduced to a regional outfit that is hanging on by its fingernails.
A series of events last week exposed the Marxist party's fault lines just as it is getting set to defend one of only two bastions where it is holding sway.
It started with a speech by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, secretary of the party's Kerala unit, criticising India for joining a four-nation strategic partnership with the US, Japan and Australia to counter any threat of aggressive intent on the part of China in the aftermath of some incidents in the South China Sea.
Anything American is anathema to the Marxist, though that is a somewhat simplistic statement because none of that hatred will be visible in the personal lives of these party leaders. Several of them have sent their progeny to America or its capitalist allies either for higher studies or to earn top dollar through business.
But for the benefit of their cadre, they have to paint America as class enemy. And if it happens to be arrayed against their ideological godfather China, they will oppose it by any means, including hitting out against India.
But Balakrishnan forgot that in this age of social media and 24X7 television, it's next to impossible to get away with duplicity. He was pummelled and pilloried incessantly on several forums.
Balakrishnan was in for still more opprobrium when reports emerged that his son Binoy was involved in a financial fraud in Dubai. It transpires that Binoy had borrowed a huge sum to finance his business and also to purchase a high-end German car for himself.
While businessmen often lend and borrow, the son of an archetypal communist doing the same was going against the grain of whatever ideology the said leader was propounding. And there was the added ignominy of the luxury car. The incongruity of a hammer and sickle flag on an Audi A8 is beyond imagination.
In a special programme, Malayalam channel Asianet News said Balakrishnan's two sons, Binish and Binoy, had been offered high posts in the companies of Gulf-based multi-billionaire Ravi Pillai who, in turn, had allegedly received favours from the Marxist party-led Kerala government.
Balakrishnan has tried to dissociate his son from the party saying Binoy is an independent adult who is free to pursue any career. He suddenly remembered the Marxist dictum that the party and the society took precedence over family and personal relations.
Binoy himself has been attempting to wriggle out of the controversy saying there was no case against him in Dubai. He also circulated what he called a ‘clean-chit' certificate from the Dubai police. However all these have not washed with the public.
The alleged certificate also seemed to be of doubtful origin since the Dubai police website said the application for such a certificate is still 'under process.
Binoy's admission that he had been fined Dh60,000 for issuing a dud cheque itself was reason enough to doubt his public utterances.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Balakrishnan's comrade-in-arms for decades, was quick to rise in defence of his friend and his son.
He categorically stated in the assembly that there will be no inquiry into any of Binoy Balakrishnan's business dealings as they had nothing to do with the state government.
Vijayan may be legally right but morally wrong, a fact that a number of senior leaders both in the party and in the opposition have started pointing.
If a billionaire has to provide high-profile jobs to two people whose sole qualification is they are their father's sons, and if they amass huge wealth far beyond their known sources of income, something out of the ordinary has happened. Stories of extravagant shopping trips to the Gulf by family members of top communist leaders are more than a whisper among Indian residents in the area. Vijayan is fooling nobody by avoiding an inquiry.
The issue is also giving added impetus to the faction led by party general secretary Sitaram Yechuri who, for all practical purposes, has been sidelined by the powerful Kerala lobby led by his predecessor Prakash Karat.
Yechuri was spearheading an initiative for the CPI(M) to forge an alliance with the Congress Party. He saw this as the only way the party can retain its relevance nationally.
Only two states are left with the communists presently Kerala and Tripura. The CPI(M) has been witnessing a steady erosion of its base in the north-eastern state which is going to polls next month.
The Congress is not exactly burning the midnight oil deciding whether it should ally with the communists. In Rahul Gandhi's scheme of things, the communists are way down the list of possible alliance partners as he prepares to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliamentary elections next year. Even in West Bengal he would rather have the Trinamool Congress as an ally than the CPI(M) which will forever be remembered for the chaos it brought to the state. It's purely the communists that will benefit out of an alliance with the Congress.
The Kerala leadership of the party may be driven in its calculation that the Congress being its chief enemy in the state, the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could only result in splitting the anti-communist vote, thereby ensuring another term for Vijayan. But that presupposes the CPI(M) and its allies retaining their entire vote base.
Vijayan and Balakrishnan can bury their heads in the sands vis-a-vis the Binoy affair, but taking the Kerala voter for granted will only hasten them on their road to perdition.
Last updated: January 31 2018 12:21 AM
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