The Communist Party of India (Marxist) can claim credit for contributing significantly to the secular ethos of states including Kerala in the south. Even as it has had to face the reproach of failing in gauging the cultural expansionism of Indian fascism, the CPM has consistently taken its space in the anti-sangh parivar camp. With a clear grasp of the RSS strategy of using hatred for Muslims, the CPM has mostly been in the forefront of creating awareness about it. Therefore, there is little need for any one to educate the CPM, the flagship party of the current Left, about how Muslim alienation will happen through the statement of leaders.
However, the current track followed by the party leadership is such as for democratic advocates to wonder why Kerala's CPM is following the sangh parivar trail. A bizarre manifestation of this has come through the statements of the acting secretary of the party in Kerala, A Vijayaraghavan. What is so new about the leaders of partners in an alliance meeting each other? And what is so strange about political leaders meeting community and religious leaders? But when the leaders of the Congress, the leading party of United Democratic Front (UDF), Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala visited the president of the Muslim League president Panakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal, the CPM secretary had a in intuition that the visit was intended to strengthen a fundamentalist alliance.
This observation came not from the BJP state president, but from the state secretary of the CPM, who is also the convenor of the ruling left front. That this statement came at a news conference to explain the preparations for the upcoming state assembly elections gives room for a question whether this the collective decision of the LDF or not. In view of the upcoming assembly election, political leaders of every hue, including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, have been meeting various community leaders, including Vellappally Natesan, who was party to the formation of the BDJS that has been an ally of the BJP. If the CPM has no fear of going communal while indulging such moves, and harbour that fear only when the Congress leaders meet a respected leader of a prominent Muslim community organisation Samastha Kerala Jamiatul Ulama, and president of the political party called Muslim League, that reading belongs more to the realm of communal bias.
Is it that the CPM, and by corollary the Left, has totally embraced the anti-minority narrative that belligerent Hindutva propounds? Is it the decision of the CPM alone or of the entire LDF that through alienation of Muslims they can ensure consolidation of Hindu votes and with that the continuity of their government? If the Left front has decided to be the beneficiary of CPM's communal politics, then history will judge that step as a big betrayal of Kerala's secularism. It is becoming clearer each day that what Vijayaraghavan spews by repeating his effectively anti-Muslim remarks, is the communalism that foams inside the collective consciousness of the Left. If he has no hesitation to comment that if Oommen Chandy becomes active in Kerala, communalism will gain strength, that means the ideas and logic of Hindutva have been internalised by the left front and its following has come to a mind-set of suspecting a section of the population - without regard for facts.
No one becomes a victim of fascism in one ago, but enters that stage by steps. The result of such comments as Vijayaraghan's is, to borrow his own words, that they can create leftists who have no qualms about voting for the lotus symbol. As a community, Muslims have been living in this country facing and experiencing the discriminatory politics of alienation. They continue to make their interventions firmly rooted in constitutional freedom and by fighting for their rights and forming democratic forums for survival. They stand by democratic movements and play a crucial role in the social movement against fascism. The sangh parivar will of course have their own disagreement with, and even intolerance towards this. But why the CPM has the same disapproval towards it, is a matter the party is obliged to explain. In order to absolve itself of the guilt of paving way for Hinduitva process and not to be tried by future Kerala for it, the CPM would do well to rid itself of anti-Muslim stances. If on the other hand, it does not mind being late in that correction, as it has happened many times, perhaps the party and its rank and file will not survive in that era for such correction. If it is not sure about it, the party can look back at Tripura and West Bengal.