Victories for VS and Mamta. Will the ‘Left" learn the lessons?

The Assembly election results are out. As expected and predicted Mamata Banerjee virtually wiped out the Left Front from West Bengal Assembly. Unexpectedly the LDF in Kerala only lost by a whisker.If about a 1000 votes changed hands they would have been still in power. The main reason for this remarkable performance by LDF is obviously the VS factor which made many neutrals and fence sitters vote LDF.



Thus these elections in CPM ruled States resulted in the Party losing power. The real victors were Mamata Banerjee the in coming Chief Minister of Bengal and VS Achuthanadan, the out going Chief Minister of Kerala. Will the CPM learn the lessons from their victories?


VS factor


In the 70s and 80s VS was just an ‘Alleppy’ leader of CPM. Those were the times of towering figures of EMS and AKG. In most meetings of the CPM, when VS finally get to the microphone the cadres used to get up and go rather than listen to his long drawn out mimcry like speeches. Then came the time of E.K.Nayanar the ‘simpleton comedian’ leader who also was very popular. Though VS was the Party Secretary for a long time he was never considered a popular leader. He was also never very popular inside his own Party. Many a time he was accused of ‘group’ politics inside the Party.He was also said to be very ambitious of power.In 1996 when VS was supposed to be the CM candidate he mysteriously lost the elections probably due to the mischief of his own Party men.From then onwards he was vary of some of his comrades and tried to creat a path of his own.




The graph of VS’s popularity began to rise after he became the Opposition leader for the first time in 2001.That was a wonderful performance which got applause from each and every one. Mushrooming Malayalam TV News channels hungry for video and sound bytes feasted on VS’s struggle against Corruption,Sex and Land mafia. Most of the time he never waited for the green signal from Party Committee but ploughed his own course. His image as a strong crusader against injustice became bigger and bigger.Many in his own Party was not amused with his rise in popularity.That resulted in VS being denied Party ticket to contest in 2006.Lack of discipline and ‘groupism’ were the reasons pointed out for the denial. An uproar in the Civil Society fuelled by the anti-Left media forced the Party to reverse it decision. May be for the first time in its history the Party instead of dictating to the public,was dictated by it.


The LDF won a massive victory and VS became the Chief Minister.The fight between the Official Party lead by Pinarayi Vijayan and VS continued. VS never lost a chance to make jibes at Pinarayi and the ensuing word-fight resulted in both of them demoted from the Politburo.


Meanwhile the LDF under some able ministers were able to provide fairly good governance to the State.VS might not have been directly instrumental in that but facilitated it.


But LDF lost most of the seats in Parliamentary elections in 2009 held after some sharp in fighting between alliance partners as result of arrogance of CPM. In the Local Bodies elections of 2010, LDF could fair only marginally better.In fighting in CPM, inability to convey the message of good governance,hostile mass media etc were considered to be the causes.


Those 2 results made every one predict a cake-walk for UDF in Assembly elections of 2011.Even many in the Party openly indicated that next Government will be that of UDF.UDF leaders started discussions about ministries.


Then a few fortunate co-incidences helped to turn the tide for LDF.Balakrishna Pillay, a former UDF minister,widely regarded as corrupt was sentenced to 1 year jail by the Supreme Court. VS was personally responsible for pressing the appeal. Instead of keeping a distance from a person convicted for corruption ,UDF leaders arranged a ‘martyr’s’ reception for Pillay. The in famous Ice-cream parlour sex-mafia case came back to haunt Muslim League’s Kunjalikutty. Kunjalikutty’s aide turned foe’s revelations made it more clear for the public about his guilt. UPA Govt’s scams never left the headline space of news papers.
An aggressive VS began to attack UDF with all the above issues.At the same time the rank and file of LDF began door to door campaign highlighting the achievements of LDF rule.UDF instead of trying to counter the points raised by VS,began to attack VS personally,which boomeranged on them. The anti-Left media tried in vain to create a villain out of VS, a leader who was till then their darling during in-fighting in CPM. All LDF candidates began begging VS for campaign stop in their constituencies. LDF posters contained only the picture of VS.


Thus the cake-walk every one expected became a photo-finish victory for UDF and the VS factor did play very important role in it.


Many of his critics believe that VS is not suitable to be a leader of a disciplined cadre party like CPM. They feel that he is a power hungry politician who will stab his colleague’s back to gain some brownie points.They think that everything about VS is just a show for the media.

My answer is this.


CPM now is not a revolutionary Party but only a political party trying to get power by winning democratic elections.Along with disciplined cadres it needs leaders who can understand the wishes of the people and who can get support of neutrals.It also needs leaders who can use the media to its advantage. VS thus has only helped CPM to become more popular.

VS’s LDF has lost the election but he will never stop being aggressive is evident from his Press Conference after resigning from the CM’s post about the forthcoming UDF ministry:
“Under no circumstances should those with a tainted track record such as the corrupt and womanisers be thrust upon the people of Kerala,” Achuthanandan told reporters who had gathered at his official residence here Saturday afternoon.


Asked to elaborate on whether he was pointing to people like Indian Union Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty, who is alleged to be involved in the Kozhikode ice cream sex case scandal, he shot back saying, “I have already said what I wanted to say.”


The lessons VS taught the CPM leadership can be concluded like this.
1. Aspirations of the public is more important than the wishes of Party leadership


2. Listen to the people’s grievances not to that of the Party members alone.


3 If you want the people to believe you are against Corruption/injustice you should not tolerate it in your Party


4.Not only you should be against injustice,but every one should know you are like that.


5. No point in criticising the media.One should learn to utilise it to one’s advantage.


6. Timing is as important in politics as in cricket.If you wait for the Politburo decision you would have lost the opportunity


7.Be aggressive in your attack and never defend the indefensible just because it is the Party line.


Mamata Banerjee in her own also taught CPM the same lessons in Bengal


Actually CPM needs a VS in its central leadership and in Bengal to turn the tide in its favour.

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Prof T.J.Joseph should be pardoned

A teacher of Newman College, Thodupuzha, in Idukki district of Kerala, who was attacked by extremist elements in July on the accusation that he had hurt religious sentiments by setting a question paper with certain blasphemous sentences, was dismissed from service by the college management on Saturday.



T.J. Joseph, who was the head of the college’s Malayalam Department, had two more years of service.


The management had suspended him from service in March when the question paper set for an internal examination for B.Com. students created a controversy. A few organisations took to the streets in Thodupuzha and curfew was imposed in the town.

The radical activists, reportedly owing allegiance to the Popular Front of India (PFI), waylaid his car as he was returning home from church, hacked him and chopped off his right palm

The dismissal attracted widespread condemnation in the State. In a statement, six intellectuals, led by poet O.N.V. Kurup, said the teacher had already been harassed for a lapse which took place owing to his carelessness, ignorance or lack of adequate forethought. If it had shocked democratic Kerala, his dismissal was as cruel and inhuman as the chopping off of his hand.



He hoped that the teacher would get the sympathetic support of everyone with conscience.


Other signatories to the statement are K.N .Panikkar, historian, Ninan Koshy, thinker, and the writers U.A. Khadar, P. Valsala and George Onakkkur
from The Hindu

Prof T.J.Joseph has been teaching Malayalam for last 25 years.He was never a controversial figure till March 2010. He had never indulged in activities which can be termed as against or for any particular religion.He drafted a question paper for his 32 students of BCom class. Some thought a question in that paper is hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.That was his ‘fault’. As ONV Kurup and other Intellectuals said it can be termed as owing to his carelessness, ignorance or lack of adequate forethought. He had apologised for it.

 But how did a DTP printed 32 copy question paper came to be printed in large scale and distributed in mosques and educational institutions?
 If you find something derogatory to your religion, will you print it in large scale and give it more publicity? Yes one will do it if one wants to get maximum political/religious mileage out of it.
Communalists are always in search of issues for hate/victim hood campaigns. Such issues are their fuel and they will try to give maximum publicity to it.But in this issue of Prof T.J Joseph my feeling is many secularists also fell into the trap laid by communalists.Without looking deep into the matter many were accusing Prof Joseph of deliberate mischief. In an article in the new issue of Mathrubhoomi weekly Prof Joseph has explained in detail how the question came into being.His explanations are reasonable for any secular minded person.
Prof Joseph’s mistake was lack of adequate forethought.He can and should be pardoned. Let us hope that saner voices from Muslim community will be brave enough to rise against fundamentalist/communalist ideologies and pardon Prof Joseph accepting his apology.
If we allow the communal organisations to dictate terms in Kerala civil society, our cultural atmosphere may soon resemble that of Arabian Gulf States or Gujarat.

Some Onam Thoughts

 Onam was my most favourite festival in my childhood.It is the favourite festival for most people of Kerala too. Why?
Is it because it is the time when we as children get new dressess?
Is it because of the 10 days of holidays we get to play and roam around?
Is it because of the 10 days of Pookalams [floral carpets] that we used to arrange on Onam days?
Is it because of the Onam feasts which may last for 3 to 4 days with some delicious preparations?
Is it because of the celebrations we used to have in campuses in the form of contests and cultural programmes?
Is it because of the 4 days of special programmes in Radio/TV?
Is it because of the Onam special editions of  newspapers and periodicals which will showcase the best works of  writers of Kerala?
Is it because of the yearly re-union of most of the family members?

On this Uthradam day morning [ Uthradam in the month of Chingam is considered as the first Onam day]  my thoughts were wandering around these questions.

        .

Mythology
Mahabali was supposed to be the grandson of Prahlad (son of Hiranyakashipu who was slain by Vishnu in his Narasimha Avataram). Prahlad, though an Asura, was a great devotee of Vishnu. Mahabali learned the love and devotion of Vishnu from Prahlad.
Mahabali became a great emperor and conquered all the ‘three’ Worlds.The ‘Devas’ did not like an Asura King conquering the World.They approached Vishnu and he came to the earth as ‘Vamana’.
Mahabali was performing the sacrificial rite of the Ashwamedha Yagam. He  declared that he would give anything that anyone sought from him during this Yagam. Vamana asked for an extend of land covered by his 3 foot steps. Mahabali agreed.
Vamana grew in size until he towered above the heavens. With one footstep, he measured all of the earth. With the second, he claimed all of heaven. There was still one foot of territory that Mahabali owed him. Mahabali requested Vamana to place the final step on his head as the third step of land, for he had no other left. Vamana did so and in doing so, pushed him down to Patala, the underworld.
As a last gift, Mahabali was granted permission by Vishnu to visit his subjects once a year. Thus, Keralites celebrate the Onam festival to commemorate the memory of the Great King Mahabali who would keep his promise to visit. Mahabali fulfilled his name as the great martyr for the sake of Truth (“Satya”). The name “Mahabali” itself means Great Sacrifice.

History

There is mention of Onam celebrations in Sangham Literature dating back to 300 BC. Many European and Arab travellers who came to Kerala between 500 and 1500 AD have mentioned Onam celebrations in their travelogues.
Even though the legend of Mahabali is well known throughout India, the yearly return of the King is never celebrated anywhere else in India.Why?
Was it because Mahabali ruled only in Kerala?
No explanations is readily available from history or mythology.

The folk songs of Onam describes the rule of Mahabali like this.

When Maveli  ruled the land,
All the people were equal.
And people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
There were no illnesses.
Death of the children was never even heard of,
There were no lies,
There was neither theft nor deceit,
Measures and weights were right;
No one cheated others.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people were equal.

Did such an utopian rule by a King ever exisited in Kerala?

Most probably a popular King of Kerala must have been defeated  [may be by treachery] by a conquerer from other part of India.The new rulers must have connected it to the Vamana legend so as to legitimise their rule.

Is Onam celebrations a protest against Vishnu’s action of dethroning a benevolent ruler?

The pyramid shaped idols made of mud/wood that is put up in front of most of the houses of Kerala on Thiruvonam day is called Thrikakara Appan.It is generally believed that Trikakara Appan is Vamana The temple at Thrikakara is a Vamana Moorthy temple.Many believe that the idols were originally meant to be that of Mahabail. The new Rulers who de throned Mahabali might have changed the rituals.The spread of Brahmanical Hinduism may have slowly changed the practice of offering ‘pooja’ to Mahabali to that of offering ‘pooja’ to Vamana,the original ‘villain’of the myth. It is also said that originally Thrikakara temple was a Buddhist shrine.

 It is believed that Mahabali will visit each and every home in Kerala on that day.So the houses are cleaned,new dresses are worn and beautiful floral designs are put up in front of each and every house to welcome him. So certainly Mahabali is the hero here,receiving a hero’s welcome from his country men.

Onam can thus be called a festival celebrating sub-nationalism of Malayalam speaking people of India. Is this the reason why Hindu Nationalistic organisations like RSS always downplays Onam? They always try to project Sri Krishna Jayanthi and Ganesholtsvam in Kerala which occurs around the same time,which are mainly North/West Indian festivals unheard of in Kerala before 1970s.

So why I like Onam so much?

Onam is a colorful festival in many ways. It is more of a celebration of life than most other festivals. It is not related to a religion as such but to a region. It was closely related to agriculture and harvest. It has a powerful mythology behind it. It is mostly about reminiscenes of a real or imaginary past in which Kerala was an utopian land with everybody happy and contented.

HAPPY ONAM TO ALL OF YOU

‘Love Jihad’.Fact or fiction?

Whom do you think a communalist hates most?

Many may feel that an Islamic communalist will hate a Hindu/Christian communalist most while a Hindu communalist will hate a Muslim/Christian communalist most.

But this is not true.

Whom they hate most are the believers of their own religion who try to have strong friendship and social contacts with believers of other religion.

That’s why Jinnah hated Maulana Azad most.
That’s why a Hindutva activist killed Gandhiji.
That’s why communalists of all hues and color hate inter-religious marriages,especially when the couple involved decides to stick on to their own religion.

Even if they do not stick on to their own religion,such marriages based on love increases the social contacts between families of different religions and should be encouraged if the conversion to the spouse’s religion is with out compulsion.

“Love Jihad”

Recently we saw an increasing number of news reports about love used for forcible religious conversion in South India,mainly Kerala. It has been alleged that thousands of Hindu and a few Christian girls has been trapped in to love affairs with Islamist boys and later forced into marriages and conversion to Islam. A newspaper in Kerala coined the term ‘Love Jihad’ for this phenomenon.

If you search ‘Love Jihad’ on google you will see a large number of furious Hindutva websites trying their best to raise the anger in the Hindu mind.The statistics they quote are mind boggling. It ranges from 1000 to 5000 Hindu girls already converted to Islam by this ‘Love jihad’.
Here is an excerpt from ‘Hindu jagruti”s website.

“Trapping naive Non Muslim girls (Read as Hindu girls) in the web of love inorder to convert to Islam is the modus operandi of the said organisation. Already more than 4000 girls have been converted to Islam by this Jihadi Romeos.



Special branch of Police started investigation when marriages of such large scales are reported within last 6 months. As per the instructions to recruits of this organisation, they have to love a Hindu girl within the time frame of 2 weeks and brainwash them to get converted and marry within 6 months. Special instructions to breed atleast 4 kids have also been given. If the target won’t get trapped within first 2 weeks, they are instructed to leave them and move on to another girl.”

Is this really true?

Most of the Hindutva websites reveal the source of their information as Police Special Branch reports. The Kerala High Court asked the Police to enquire about this.The DGP has presented a preliminary report in the Court on October 23.
The DGP’s affidavit said that apart from the 2 cases before the court there is no proof that such incidents are taking place. At the same time the affidavit said “there are reasons to suspect ‘concentrated attempts’ to persuade girls to convert to Islam after they fall in love with Muslim boys but no organisation called ‘Love Jihad’ has been identified so far in the state“. The affidavit said police had no evidence regarding the operation of love jihad and the source of money.

What is the truth behind this?
I am very well aware that Islamists recruit many youths from the campuses in Kerala for propagating hate in name of Islam.
I am also sure that some inter-religious ‘love’ marriages have taken place and most probably conversions too. Most of those marriages were genuine.
Was the conversion forced? Is it really an organised movement by ‘Jihadi’ organisations to increase the number of Muslims in India? Even if it is so has this taken place in such a large scale as being alleged?

The Police special branch report the Hindutva websites are quoting is about complaints registered in police stations regarding missing persons.Police themselves say that most of those compliants have already been withdrawn as the missing persons have returned to their families. Only a few are yet to be traced.The statistics are grossly exaggerated to create bigger effect.

Read here from ‘The Hindu’ a story of alleged ‘love jihad’ from Karnataka

The ‘Love Jehad’ that wasn’t

When Anitha (22) of Barimaru village in Bantwal taluk, went missing this June, the rumour mills fed by several Sangh Parivar organisations claimed that she was forcibly converted to Islam by a Pakistan-backed, professional ‘jehadist lover’.



On October 4, the head of the Gurupura Math, Rajashekharananda, held a protest meeting where he alleged that Anitha had fallen prey to a terrorist ploy. The event, which according to top police officers, threatened to create a communally sensitive situation, led to the hurried constitution of a special investigation team.


In less than two weeks the team cracked the case: Anitha was poisoned to death by Mohan Kumar, serial killer arrested on October 21, who allegedly confessed to having murdered her and robbed 17 other women by luring them with offers of marriage.

On October 15, the Hindu Janjagruthi Samiti held a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s Office alleging that over 3,000 Hindu girls from Dakshina Kannada and 30,000 from the rest of the State had gone missing since the “Love Jehad operation” was launched by the “terrorists” a year ago. These figures, posted on the Samiti’s website, are now being quoted by other Hindutva organisations as well.

However, official statistics given to The Hindu show that in the three years ended September 30 this year, 404 women went missing in the district. Of them, 332 women have since been traced by the police.

At Wednesday’s press conference, the police said that now only 57 women were missing in the district.

According to Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao, several of these 57 women are suspected to have committed suicide or eloped. “Among those who have eloped there are several who are not Hindus. There are also cases where Hindu women have eloped with Hindu men,” he said.

In another incident Siljaraj a woman of 23 years who eloped with her Muslim boy friend told the Karnataka High court that she had willingly converted to Islam and is waiting to get married under the provisions of the Special Marriages Act and asked for permission to go with her boy friend. But surprisingly the High Court asked her to return to her parent’s home until the case is investigated.

Reacting to the order, senior advocate Ravi Varma Kumar said that it violated Article 21 (of life and personal liberty) and Article 25 (of freedom of religion) of the Indian Constitution. He cited Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of a person who had reached the age of majority to marry of his or her own choice.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said it would file a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order.


I feel that more than this alleged ‘love jihad’ being a threat to Hindu society [ are Hindu girls so dumb???], it has become a fodder for the propaganda machine of the Sangh Parivar to propagate communal animosity and there by helping them in trying to reduce all social contacts between Hindus and believers of other religions.
Muslim and Christian priests have also issued warnings to youth to be cautious of such inter-religious social contacts.
As I said above Communalists of all colors are the same.They hate social and religious harmony because then their very existence is questioned.

The issue underlines the need for high vigilance against communalisation of our society.

The World March for Peace and Nonviolence to begin on Gandhi Jayanti Day

A World march for Peace and Non-violence is scheduled to begin on Gandhi Jayanti day this year.
The World March will begin in New Zealand on October 2, 2009, the anniversary of Gandhiji’s birth, declared the “International Day of Nonviolence” by the United Nations. It will conclude in the Andes Mountains (Punta de Vacas, Aconcagua, Argentina) on January 2, 2010. The March will last 90 days, three long months of travel. It will pass through all climates and seasons, from the hot summer of the tropics and the deserts, to the winter of Siberia. The American and Asian stages will be the longest, both almost a month. A permanent base of a hundred people of different nationalities will complete the journey.

The march is organised basically by the World Humanist movement. through one of its organisation World Without Wars[WWW].

WWW subscribes to and promotes the “Humanist Document” whose main points are:

Condemnation of physical violence, whose maximum expression is war, and of all other forms of violence: economic, racial, religious and sexual.
Affirmation of freedom of thought and diversity of beliefs for all human beings.
Development of science and all knowledge at the service of life.
Recognition of personal, ethnic, racial and cultural diversity throughout the world.
Affirmation of the equality of all human beings.
Considering the human being as the central value and concern.

The main objectives of the World March are

To denounce the dangerous world situation that is leading us closer and closer to nuclear war, which would be the greatest catastrophe in human history – a dead end.



To give a voice to the majority of world citizens who want peace. Although the majority of the human race opposes the arms race, we are not sending out a unified signal. Instead we are letting ourselves be manipulated by a powerful minority and suffering the consequences. The time has come to stand together and show our opposition. Join a multitude of others in sending a clear signal, and your voice will have to be heard!


To achieve: the worldwide eradication of nuclear weapons; the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories; the progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons; the signing of
non-aggression treaties among nations and the renunciation by governments of war as a way to resolve conflicts.

To expose the many other forms of violence (economic, racial, sexual, religious…) that are currently hidden or disguised by their perpetrators; and to provide a way for all who suffer such violence to be heard.

To create global awareness – as has already happened with environmental issues – of the urgent need to condemn of all forms of violence and bring about real Peace.

Details of the march like the route and the mode of transportation can be found here

You can endorse the march and learn about what you can do to help by clicking here.

In Kerala veteran singer Padmabhushan K J Yesudas is the ambassador for the World March for Peace and non-violence.

Let us all endorse this noble cause and make Peace and non-violence a reality.