Kerala CPI-M goes for ‘soft Hindutva’

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) has decided to adopt a ‘soft Hindutva’ line in its bid to check the growing influence of BJP and in a desperate attempt to save the country’s only remaining left citadel from caving in.

The party’s state committee decided to let party workers who are believers to get involved in religious activities and management of local temples, which are integral to local community life.

In another major departure, the party decided not to aggressively pursue the right of women to enter the Sabarimala temple, an issue that led to the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections.

The party as well as the government had shown undue haste in implementing the Supreme Court order that upheld the right of women of all ages to enter the famous hill shrine, which by tradition is a no-go zone for women of reproductive age.

The course correction is part of the realisation that the stand of the government and the party in this highly-emotional issue had turned the overwhelming majority of people in the state against it. The CPI(M) is keen to re-assure the people that it is not against believers.

The state committee also decided that the party and government leaders should eschew their newly-found taste for luxury and comforts so that they regain the confidence of the people. Many of them have attracted criticism for being liberal with the comforts of office and power, alienating themselves from the people.

The most important take-away from the four-day deliberations of the party is that it has realized the threat of West Bengal and Tripura being repeated in Kerala, which was once thought to be an invincible fortress of the leftists. Most of the recommendations of the policy planning bodies of the party arise from this existential threat.

The state committee gave a new slogan of ‘peace and development’ to the Left Democratic Front government as violence unleashed by party cadres had become a regular feature. There has been considerable backlash against such culture.

The party feels that the strategy that helped it to fight the opposition United Democratic Front all these years is no longer effective as the equation has a new player in the form of BJP, which, backed by its unprecedented national clout, is making aggressive moves to wean away the traditional support base of the communists.

The state committee also stressed the need to educate the party cadres on the need to show greater civility when dealing with public. Intolerance had become a trademark of the party as activists stopped at nothing when they were confronted with opposition. This had led a series of political murders in the state, which had become a serious campaign issue in the Lok Sabha elections.

By K RAVEENDRAN