Top CPM bosses have tried every ploy to get two key comrades in the Politburo to keep off each other. Exchanges between V.S. Achuthanandan,chief minister of Kerala,and P. Vijayan,secretary of the Kerala state committee of the CPM,have for long been a given of the states politics. Their rivalry acquired a new edge this year,after the CBI targeted Vijayan for a contract signed when he was power minister. The party immediately accused the CBI of being politically motivated,but Achuthanandan affirmed allegiance to constitutional processes and refused to echo these conspiracy theories.
Now both leaders are reaching for anecdote and history to make a point. Vijayan this week tried to tutor Achuthanandan on the merits of sticking to the party line by telling the story of a boy who tried to make waves in a bucket by collecting water from the roaring sea. Achuthanandan hit back by invoking an earlier storm called Mikhail Gorbachev to hit the communist world.
This is an intellectual argument that we are keen to hear out. Gorbachev remains one of the great living enigmas. His confirmation as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985 is a key event of our times. His pursuit of glasnost and perestroika led to the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union,his abandonment of the Brezhnev Doctrine set free Eastern Europe from Soviet clutches,his word held good on Germanys unification,and his conciliatory approach to the West (or his inept leadership,depending on your ideological persuasion) led to the end of the Cold War. Now he reminds us that he is still around,awaiting the verdict of history,by appearing in adds for luxury baggage. Carry on Mr Vijayan,do answer back. This is an argument that may enrich us all.