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Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2008 > April 19, 2008 > Open Letter to Prakash Karat and VS on the Chengara Struggle

Mainstream, Vol. XLVI, No 18

Open Letter to Prakash Karat and VS on the Chengara Struggle

Tuesday 22 April 2008, by Thomas Kocherry


Dear Prakash Karat and Chief Minister,

The Chengara land struggle is coming in Desabhimani like the Right-wing media reporting the news! It is an irony of the times that the LDF and CPM are being accused of provoking a land struggle with Maoist influence. More than seven thousand families are involved in the land struggle. What is wrong in democratic India that people are starting a struggle for land?

In Andhra Pradesh (AP), the CPM organised a historic land struggle. The ruling class then successfully used the police to kill the poor and landless who were objecting to the status quo. They used the Naxal Squad of the AP Police to kill the agitating, landless people. It is pathetic that the struggle of the landless and downtrodden can be falsely labelled as “terrorism” and its leadership can be attacked on false pretexts. How can a Communist Party ignore the struggle of the landless and attack it by calling it the handiwork or Maoists and extremists? How can a youth organisation like the DYFI stay away from the struggle of the landless?

If we borrow the words of Comrade Prakash Karat, “History will not forgive us [for accusing and attacking the struggle of the landless].” On what merit we can differentiate the struggle of the landless in AP, organised by the CPM, and the struggle of the landless in Chengara? On what merit is the AP land struggle declared glorious while the Chengara land struggle comes under the shadow of extremism?

The leader of the Chengara land struggle, Laha Gopalan (a poor Dalit who has become leader of the masses), is accused of being a landowner! What is wrong with a man who owns property supporting a political movement for the landless? Comrade EMS was a landlord and came by birth from a feudal elite class. Can we condemn his involvement in the struggle?

Dynamic Action is a very pure secular movement derived from the Thiruvalla based Christians’ radical movement only. Many of its leaders are engaged in organising the people and church-goers against the self-financed business in support of the New Education Bill introduced by M.A. Baby. Many of these people are part of the CPM, Kairali TV and different Leftist organisations. Even the LDF Government has Ministers, Planning Board members, and CPM leaders like Prof Nainan Koshy from this Thiruvalla based radical movement. Many of them, like Dr M. M. Thomas and Bishop Paulous Mar Paulos, are not only radical but from time to time organisations like the CPM, SFI, DYFI glorify and invite them for party meetings. Many of these people have faced several punishments from the Church for their improprieties.

If the agitating persons have lands of their own can we not find out? Most of the agitators are Dalits and tribals. They have their own small houses with 3-5 cent plots, inherited through the first land reform you initiated in Kerala. But let us carry forward land reform into a new level for implementing the mandate we have from the Indian Constitution. The landless have the right to acquire land. Harrison Malayalam Plantations are claiming more power than the Constitution and keeping the landless from becoming landowners with a false “law”.

On what ground is the party staying away from these struggles? This kind of Right-wing approach only moves the party further away from the poor, Dalits and tribals of Kerala. It is understandable that the erosion of values in our civil society and social action movements are an issue of the times. But Leftist and communist movements that are magnifying this problem not only defeat the party but paralyse many civil, social initiatives along with this erosion. At the same time, the history of humankind has taught us that radical movements and social initiatives will be born from the spots where others end their journey. The resurrections of communist and Leftist movements across the planet are the best possible examples of how radicalism and social action groups arise and move forward. The institutionalisation of radical movements gives birth to dogmatism, ritualism and fundamentalism. But the radical/progressive/prophetical dimension within the institution and outside becomes the new life for the ongoing change in the world for social justice to all.

If I may quote Comrade Prakash Karat again, “History will not forgive us” if we stay away from the struggle of the landless!

With comradely salutations,

Mobile: 09360645772
- E-mail: Thomas Kocherry

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