Restraint should be the watchword for CPM

P. Sreekumaran

It is gratifying to note that the unfortunate recurrence of the war of words between the CPM and the CPI has been halted with the call for restraint by both the CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and his CPI counterpart Kanam Rajendran.
Kodiyeri’s offer of talks to sort out the differences has been welcomed by Kanam. That is how it should be. What had led to the verbal spat was the rushing to the press by both sides instead of discussing the contentious issues at the appropriate forums like the LDF Coordination Committee.
It goes without saying that open airing of differences provides the opposition with a powerful weapon to belabour the LDF Government. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that both the CPI and the CPM should avoid a washing of the dirty linen in public.
Being the biggest partner in the coalition, the CPM has a greater responsibility in this regard. In his press conference to rebut Kanam’s contentions, Kodiyeri has rightly stressed the need for avoiding public criticism of Government’s policies and programmes. Allies should avoid the tendency to do so, emphasized Kodiyeri. But the Government has an equal if not greater responsibility to ensure that it does nothing by way of word or deed that provdes ammunition to the Opposition.
Kanam in his reply to Kodiyeri said that all that the CPI did was to strengthen the LDF Government and not to weaken it. He has a point. When the LDF Government goes against its declared policies, it is the duty of the allies to point out the lapses. And the CPI would continue to do that, Kanam averred, and rightly so. But care should be taken to see that there is no public exchange of hot words between the two principal LDF allies.
It is also true that Kodiyeri’s reply to Kanam bristles with contradictions. On the one hand, he says that allies should not provide sticks to the opposition to beat the government with. But when the government does something wrong, the allies cannot remain silent spectators. Kodiyeri must realize this unless it is his contention that allies should remain tight-lipped even in the face of clear cases of wrong doing.
Another point to be noted is that while Kodiyeri doled out dollops of advice to the CPI, he failed to pull up the CPM leaders who provoked the latest round of mutual criticism. It was the intemperate outbursts from CPM leaders EP Jayarajan and Power Minister MM Mani against Kanam and Revenue Minister Chandrashekharan respectively that triggered the latest verbal fireworks. These loose CPM cannons must be firmly kept on leash. Otherwise, all the efforts being made to restore normalcy and ensure smooth sailing of the LDF Government would be rendered futile.
In this regard, the central leaderships of both the parties have a big role to play. The central leaders must make sure that there is no open airing of mutual criticism any more. If necessary, a meeting should be held with the state leaders to enforce the ‘ceasefire’ strictly.
Last but not the least, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in particular and the CPM in general must change forthwith their style of functioning. It is the CM’s autocratic style of doing things and proclivity to make ill-thought out remarks and statements which had raised the hackles of the allies, particularly the CPI.
Particular mention must be made of the manner in which the police department, under the CM’s direct control, is being handled. To say that the handling of the police department has been an unmitigated disaster is only to state the obvious. The glaring and inexcusable failure to restrain the police was evident in the way in which the police treated the attempt to stage a peaceful dharna by Jishnu’s mother and his family members. The brutal way in which she was removed evoked criticism even from within the CPM. But the CM would hear none of it. He came out with an utterly ridiculous statement that the government is fully behind the Jishnu family. In the same breath, he defended the police excesses on the family when it tried to stage a sit in in front of the DGP’s office! Such double standards would only chip away at the base of goodwill which helped the LDF to assume power in the state.
The hallmark of a genuine politician is the possession of compassion and humility. Unfortunately, Pinarayi Vijayan has exposed himself to the charge of lacking both. This is an impression which he must erase at the earliest. That the police should run amok when a communist government is in power is unpardonable. The Government must act – and act now – to ensure that the police become people-friendly and people-hostile. The LDF Government has been forewarned. It must read the writing on the wall and mend its ways. (IPA)

Thursday, 20 April, 2017