Indian National Congress (INC-Indira) has decided to field its President Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad constituency of Kerala. It has surprised many, mainly the left front.
The congress decision to field its President from a State where the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) is the major force raises many questions. What is the strategy of INC? How will it impact unification of anti-BJP/NDA votes? Will it result in the total dissemination of communist parties and LDF in Kerala? And what is the message and outcome?
Congress men are jubilant and their sympathizers feel that this would unite quarreling factions in the party. Also, many view that there will be at last peace and cordiality between political workers at the grassroots and could lead to an era of violence free politics in Kerala.
The left parties are also known for their principled positions on various issues and policies. India with it multiculturalism and diversity has several constituencies and marginalized sections in every State/region. Often the Left adopt pro-poor farmer, pro-agriculture-industry worker, pro-worker, pro-small industry policy approaches. It has opposed FDI in retail policy after taking into account several factors including the concerns of millions of small & micro businesses and traders. Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Right to Information and Employment Guarantee scheme and Right to Education Act are all examples of progressive legislations push-forward primarily by the left groups during the UPA-1.
Other than the above such positive contributions, there is a growing perception in Kerala that these left parties are ‘violent groups’. They equate communism with violence, political murders, trade union excesses and poor industrial and investment climate rather than their positive contributions. There could be some truth in it.
Stories of excesses committed by the Soviet regime, during Stalinist era, on the farmers are still not forgotten. Similarly political assassinations and murders of ordinary people by ideologically intoxicated men, as planned and decided by their party local committees will not be forgotten in any of their previous pockets of influence by victims’ families.
Rahul’s candidature from Wayanad emerges as an important decision in this context. There is a hope of a new era, where there could be scope for “violence free politics”. Congress workers feel that it is a fight against political violence. Kumkumath Nair a Congress worker from Alleppy says, “defeat of communist and LDF candidates in all the twenty seats can herald a new era of peaceful and development oriented politics in Kerala”. Anita Joseph says, ‘Rahul is like Gorbachev, and he can save Kerala from violent communism. And she says “end result of this will be that now on communists don’t have to pursue with their “history rewriting project’ to change a perception about themselves that they are a group of killers and murderers”. Rahul’s arrival is important as this would go a long way in cleaning the present political culture, according to Kumkumath Nair. “Rahul effect can break the backbone of violence & murder focused communist politics”. With Rahul’s presence, if communists are learned a lesson, that would be a significant contribution, says Mr. Nair.
Kerala is the last bastion of communism. If Gorbachev brought democracy and market to the entire communist bloc through his famous glasnost and perestroika reforms, Rahul it seems can give at-least a shock treatment to those responsible for murders and start the process of cleaning-up the current violence driven political culture in Kerala, if INC wins. Further, with his candidature against the Left, Congress is absolved from being an alliance partner with a party with the record of violence and murders.