Onchiyam village of North Kerala will be etched forever in red letters in the history of the state CPM after 10 of its villagers became martyrs to police firing in 1948,when the Communist Party was banned.
On Friday night,one more communist from the village,T P Chandrasekharan,was shot dead,but the CPM has shown no indication of including him in the list of its martyrs. With Chandrasekaran having floated a rebel party,no senior leader turned up to pay their last respects.
Veteran communist Berlin Kunhananthan Nair,however,remembered Chandrasekharans work for the CPM. Will you shed a teardrop for him? A drop? he exhorted CPM leaders. He had raised slogans for the party leaders for many years.
Uprisings from the grassroots,one of the CPMs most potent current problems,began at Onchiyam,where cadres floated the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) with Chandrasekharan as its secretary in 2008. Till then a member of the CPM Onchiyam area committee,Chandrasekharan was earlier state joint secretary of the SFI and a district-level functionary of the DYFI.
The Onchiyam revolt of 2008 began with Chandrasekharan and other local leaders rejecting the party plan to give the post of Eramala village panchayat president to coalition partner Janata Dal (S). In return,the JD(S) was asked to give up for the CPM the same post at Azhiyoor,a coastal panchayat. This arrangement was allegedly meant to ensure the success of business plans of certain groups close to the CPM in the coastal village.
When Chandrasekharan walked out,a major chunk of the villages party base followed,reducing the CPM to a bare structure of functionaries. The party has been pushed into such an embarrassing situation that it has had to bring in cadres from other villages for functions at Onchiyam.
The stand that Chandrasekharan had taken against a deviation from the partys ideology inspired other similar rebellions elsewhere. Once a loyalist of Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan,he became a role model for such rebellions.
And unlike other CPM rebels who had sought asylum in the Congress or its partners,Chandrasekharan chose to remain as a communist. The violent attacks against party workers and death threats from rivals did not prevent him from keeping the RMP afloat. He was warned by police and his colleagues to take security,but he preferred to move around alone.
At one stage,the CPM took note of the fact that it had lost its cadre base at Onchiyam. It tried to broker peace with the rebels and took Achuthanandan,Chandrasekharans mentor,to Onchiyam to prevail upon the RMP workers. Chandrasekharans stand,however,was that the rebels were the true communists and it was the party that should correct its ways.
In 2009,the RMP made history by ending a 40-year-old stint of CPM victories in the Onchiyam village panchayat. It also marked its presence in Eramala,Azhiyoor,Cheorode and several nearby panchayats.