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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightDon't leaders know the...

Don't leaders know the appropriateness of terms?

Dont leaders know the appropriateness of terms?

The concept that language is not always neutral, and the words one chooses and uses have a political perception underpinning it, does not need to be drilled home for the leftists, especially CPM.

They are a class aware that any transmission of thoughts and feelings is accompanied by an exercise of power through language. The crux of the debate on whether the BJP is a Fascist outfit, or a political force displaying autocratic tendency, is the theoretical stance on the politics of vocabulary. Words and expressions carry a different meaning in social life from what is in the dictionary. It is because of a recognition of this that when a word like 'the wretched' (chetta in Malayalam) is used as a word of abuse, it is construed as despise for the lower strata of society and criticised on that basis. The Left is vigilant about governments trying to suppress and demonise different communities and creating and using a vocabulary for that. But it becomes a social tragedy that while in power the Left itself is employing the same tactic to suppress popular strikes happening in Kerala. They have forgotten the fact – or so it seems from the immature ractions of certain leaders - that governments had in the past devised linguistic expressions and used them for demonization, and the CPM had become its victims.

The strike conducted by the local residents in Thalappara in Malappuram, in connection with the expansion of national highway was termed by CPM's Central Committee member A Vijayaraghavan as under the influence of Muslim extremists. Despite the fact that those arrested by the police included local workers and leaders of the CPM, making a statement counter to facts about Muslim extremism is a clear case of political stigmatizing. Earlier he had made a similar controversial pronouncement about the GAIL agitation. And in Kannur, district CPM Secretary showed his zeal of the kind by branding the national highway-related agitation in Keezhattoor as Maoist extremism. He was trying to torpedo a strike in his party's stronghold, and involving a number of CPM sympathizers, through a statement out of line with facts. And to add to them, in connection with different strikes against the national highway expansion, minister G Sudhakaran termed them as anti-national and subversive activities. For the reason that, as a aruling party they are unable to reply rationally and objectively the fundamental questions raised by the agitating sections, these may be short-term tactics to escape temporarily from and divert, the essence of the issues. But by that the leaders are falling a prey to making statements with far-reaching consequences. Or else, it may be a government formula to first take such harsh police action as made in Keezhaattoor and Thalappara to suppress popular protests, and the extra-legal exercise of authority and later justify those actions. But in the process the wounds they make will last remain incurable for long, and will continue to question the political relevance of CPM. A fact they need to recognize fast. For, it is only the left that demonize the popular agitations by labelling them as extremist.

The political stigmatizing by the leftist leaders without absorbing any historical sense or contemporary political complexities will definitely benefit the extreme right politics. There are two ways before the party: either appease the Union Minister Nitin Gatkari or pay heed to the denunciation by the common man. Either way, it will be good for the party to learn from the lessons it had from West Bengal and Tripura. Wide roads can never heal the wounds inflicted on the self-respect of of the people. The common man is helpless as the government puts marks above his mother's grave. And labelling of "terrorist" cannot outlive the anguish and protest of that man. Therefore, political leaders, especially those who rule, should think twice before talking. It is difficult to presume that state minister G. Sudakaran, A. Vijayaraghavan and CPM are too naïve to understand the sociological lesson that it is through various political and cultural streams that such terms interact with hearts of different people.

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