Thick red linehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/thick-red-line/

Thick red line

There is no place in a democracy for the politics of bloodletting that a Kerala CPM leader boasts of

There is no place in a democracy for the politics of bloodletting that a Kerala CPM leader boasts of

CPM district secretary in Idukki M.M. Mani’s verbal vitriol was chilling — for the nonchalance with which he ticked off a list of local Congress leaders who,he said,his party murdered in cold blood in the 1980s,and worse,for the possibility that this bluster could contain grains of truth. In Kerala,blood has flowed in political encounters,and revenge politics takes the fatal form of street battles and crude bomb blasts,but never has a politician made such a public declaration of the modus operandi of elimination: “The first person in the list was shot dead. The second was stabbed to death. And the third was beaten to death.”

CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat has said appropriate action would be taken against Mani. But the party’s deliberate mulling over the issue,instead of immediate action or explanation,or expiation,is not enough. Damage has already been done to the Kerala CPM,especially as Mani’s comments come in the wake of brutal murder of a dissident comrade,T.P. Chandrasekharan,for which local party workers have been arrested. It is not a long-ago politics that Mani’s very coarse statements frame; it is the present as well. For,they also recall the callousness with which a Muslim youth was murdered in broad daylight in Kannur for daring to block a cavalcade of CPM leaders — for which,again,party workers have been arrested.

It has been less than two months after the CPM’s 20th party congress in Kerala where Karat said the party should bend all its resources and energies to go beyond its traditional strongholds. But in Kerala itself,where the party was in better shape,having lost the assembly elections by a wafer-thin margin,it is in a bind. The district which hosted the congress,Kozhikode,is where Chandrasekharan was killed. It is now the ground zero of disillusionment with the CPM. The party has more than a Pinarayi Vijayan-V.S. Achuthanandan spat to worry about. Or even the forthcoming Neyattinkara by-election,crucial as it is. It has to stanch the bloodshed and show cleaner hands.