Horses That Walk Backwards – Samkutty Pattomkary
Mr. Prakash Karat, how far behind are you and your crew walking?!
asks theatre director SAMKUTTY PATTOMKARY
[As the Chengara struggle reached a new phase, the CPI-M in Kerala organized a Dalit convention in Kochi - 51 years too late says the author. J Devika has posted updates on the struggle in recent days, as also a translation of Sunny Kapicadu's speech at the historic night-vigil on 7 March 2008, in Kafila earlier.]
In more than 80 years of communist history in Kerala, for the first time, a communist chief minister has declared today (16-8-2008) that the caste system is strongly alive in Kerala! It took 51 years, starting from EMS in 1957, for the communist rulers to understand the caste system in Kerala. Anyway, on this ‘auspicious’ occasion of such a revelation for the Kerala CPM people, let them be reminded of some more facts.
1. How do you judge the principles of EMS Namboothirippad who believed to have understood the ‘agricultural laborer’ more than Ayyankali who led the anti-caste movements and social reformation in Kerala?
[Ayyankali is one of the important Dalit leaders of the past who sought the liberation of Dalits and also their right over agricultural land. It must be remembered that land reforms in Kerala, as in West Bengal - have been no different from anywhere else, being simply tenancy reforms, thus leaving Dalits out completely. Thus those who were left out traditionally for ritually sanctioned reasons, were considered by the communists too as being unworthy of land ownership! - AN]
2. How do you explain the conversion of Sree Narayana Guru’s anti-caste thought into Toddy Tappers Union by the Communist Program in Kerala?
3. Is there anything new in your scheduled castes program today in Kerala than what Gandhi articulated in terms of harijan sewa long ago?
4. If you’ve called for the abolition of caste system, as you’ve declared today in Kochi convention, why didn’t you call the upper crust of Nair/Syrian Christian/Namboothiri members of the party also and ask them to fight against caste system in Kerala? You should have taken an oath along with those members that no one in the party would do anything in your private and public lives that would perpetuate the caste system. Instead of doing that you called the so-called scheduled castes who have been the victims of this system!
So friends, on 16-8-2008 when the ‘CPM scheduled castes’ convention was staged, as we expected, Prakash Karat himself appeared. He presented some viewpoints as ‘something new’ as follows;
1. The struggle against the caste system is part of the class struggle [Interesting!]
2. Abolition of caste system remains an unfulfilled responsibility
3. Dalits are the worst affected section of people by the globalisation and liberalization policies
4. Scheduled castes and tribes should be given reservation in the private sector is what the party’s stand.
The fact that the caste system is a social evil is something which is known to even a small child. Caste in India, as a system, works in all spheres of social life in India. In the Indian life, including that of the communists, 90% of the daily exchanges are based on values determined by castes. Then, how would the class struggle and struggle against the caste system be defined by Prakash Karat? Does it mean that class is caste?
Second issue he raises is that the abolition of caste system remains an issue to be resolved. Does it remain an issue to be resolved outside the party? Has it been resolved within the party? If ‘yes’ is your answer for the latter, can you explain it through the history of communists in Kerala? If ‘no’ is your answer, will you bring in the ‘CPM scheduled castes and tribes’ to power positions within the party now onwards? By the way, let us leave alone those who had lived ‘as communists’ until yesterday and became the ‘scheduled castes’ on this fine morning. What about those who had already died thinking they were communists, Mr. Prakash Karat?
Whatever, a new category of ‘CPM scheduled castes’ has appeared! Their difference from other scheduled castes would be that they believe in the ‘class (?)’ also. Thirdly, Prakash Karat sees the plight of dalits as the worst affected lot of glaobalisation and liberalisation. How did the dalits who put up intense struggles for social powers and rights in the beginning of 1900s, become the worst afflicted by the globalisation and liberalisation policies which came after the mid century? Can Prakash Karat explain the role of the leftist thoughts that held power from 1957 and after in this especial plight of dalits in Kerala? Why the dalits who were the proletariat had been pushed so far out in the communist dominated Kerala? Scheduled castes and tribes should be given reservation in the private sector is his next declaration. It’s a decade-long demand of the lower sections in Kerala to ensure reservation in the private sectors where the UDF and LDF were competing to privatize the revenue, education and health sectors especially. Even after holding power for such a long time, not having implemented this in Kerala, what a shame to casually say that you like this
idea, Mr. Prakash Karat?
Now let us come to the point. What you have tried to masquerade by this convention are these. It is the present struggle of dalits and adivasis in Chengara. It has been more than a year since this struggle for land has started. More than 30,000 landless people are involved in this struggle right there. Mr. Prakash Karat, your stock of comrades including the Harrison workers are putting up blockade in Chengara. 3 young women of the Chengara struggle had been raped. Your home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan must be involved in instructing the police to suppress the protesters and social activists who try to help and support them. Why didn’t you bring these heinous acts under your ruling front for even a discussion in the convention?
When those landless dalits and adivasis who struggle without getting food and ammunitions in a war-like situation created by the blockade with the support of your ruling administration, what anti-caste declarations are you making? If anyone tries to resist the goondas supported by your administration, your police forces unleash terror on them and this goonda politics is what the balance sheet of your long history in Kerala. Are you trying to say that you’re not aware of this? Mr. Prakash Karat, how far behind are you walking!!