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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 32, New Delhi, July 25, 2020

Glorifying Murders and Murderers | Barun Das Gupta

Friday 24 July 2020, by Barun Das Gupta

A leopard, it is said, cannot change its spots. If it does, it ceases to be a leopard. This old proverb came back to the present writer’s mind when he came across a news item published in The Indian Express of July 14 with the headline: “Kerala CPM leaders give hero’s farewell to party leader convicted of murder.” What was it all about?

The CPI-M proudly calls itself a Stalinist party. And Stalinists show no mercy toward anyone who is, or is perceived to be, holding any view contrary to the party’s official line. They are physically eliminated. Way back in 2012, a CPI-M “rebel” leader, T. P. Chandrasekharan was brutally murdered by CPI-M goons for being a “rebel”, that is, one who disagreed with the policies pursued by the party. To the party leadership it was heresy or apostasy. The punishment was death.

Chandrasekharan had broken away from the CPI-M in 2009 and formed a different political party, the Revolutionary Marxist Party. His fate was sealed that day. To add to his “crime”, his new-fangled party, mainly limited to the Kozhikode district, made a mark in the local elections. He was hacked to death and his face disfigured on May 4, 2012.

The police arrested P. K. Kunjanathan, a CPI-M leader of Kannur and many others and charged them with murder. Eventually, Kunjanathan and eleven other CPI-M men were found guilty of the murder of Chandrasekharan and sentenced to life imprisonment. The main accused, Kunjanathan, died on the 16th of this month at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College and Hospital where he had been admitted for an intestinal infection.

What happened next was shocking. A convicted murderer was given a martyr’s farewell by the party leaders. The first of them was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself who declared that Kunjanathan was a “comrade who had selflessly loved the party and showed concern for society. He had earned the love of all sections of people in Panur.” Others followed and showered encomiums on him. Party workers called the murderer “a martyr who will never die.” Martyr for what cause, pray?

That a political party which has accepted the country’s constitution and formed a government taking the oath under the constitution can so flagrantly glorify a murderer, takes one’s breath away. The people of West Bengal know what the CPI-M is because they lived for 34 years under the suffocating rule of the party. Nobody has kept count of the number of people they murdered and the unspeakable atrocities they committed on innocent and unarmed people.

In a particularly gruesome case in 1990, still remembered as the ”Bantola rape and murder case” a woman, a government employee, was murdered along with several others. When the bodies were being examined in a hospital, a lady doctor cried out in horror when she found that the woman had not only been murdered but a huge glass bottle had been thrust into her vagina. The founder-editor of this magazine, Nikhil Chakravartty, wrote to the then Home Minister of Bengal, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, about the Bantola incident. In his reply which was arrogant, bordering on insult, Buddhadev advised Nikhil to mind his own business and not to lose his sleep over it Buddhadev’s letter and Nikhil’s reply were published in Mainstream.

In West Bengal, after the loss of power nine years ago, the CPI-M has never looked back or introspected as to why the people rejected their rule so decisively, so emphatically. Why, since then, the vote percentage and the number of seats won by the party in the State assembly have been in a free fall. They have learnt nothing from experience. They have a gut hatred for Mamata Banerjee who inflicted a resounding defeat on the CPI-M in 2011 and dislodged them from power in West Bengal which had become their personal fief.

The hatred for Mamata is as intense as it was nine years ago. The CPI-M’s battle cry in West Bengal now is “Modi Mamata ek hai,” Their line of thinking is: First defeat Mamata and throw her out of power. If the BJP comes to power then, there is nothing to worry. We will next turn to the BJP.” This the party is saying day in and day out while the people of West Benga find the Trinamool Congress and the BJP fighting a no-holds barred battle. I find no better phrase to describe this mentality of the CPI-M than calling it “collective paranoia”. The manner in which the CPI-M leaders are attacking Mamata makes the party indistinguishable from the BJP. They are liquidating their party. But what is far worse is they are consciously or unconsciously working for the BJP’s victory in West Bengal.

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