As factionalism mars the CPI(M) in Kerala, AP Abdullakutty - suspended member of the party and a Lok Sabha MP - tells Saubhadra Chatterji about the changes the party needs.
Why did you suddenly start supporting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi?
After my speech at a Dubai programme suddenly made headlines, I have clarified my stand many times. I will do it once again in your paper. I have never supported Modi's Hindutva politics. I supported him on the development issues of Gujarat.
But the CPI(M), the Congress and other opposition parties charge that Modi is in power because of Hindutva, not development of Gujarat.
I don't want to talk about Modi any more.
How do you view the controversy surrounding the SNC Lavalin case, in which the state secretary of your party, Pinarai Vijayan, is an accused?
There are two aspects to this issue. One is the legal side -- it is pending before the court. But politically, there are two opinions in the party. One side believes this is a politically motivated case. The other side finds it a corruption case and argues that Pinarai should be removed. But even after the last Politburo meeting, where the issue was reportedly discussed at length, the problem has not been resolved. This will affect the CPI(M) not only in Kerala but also at the national level. The message going out is that the party is not united.
But infighting has been there in the party for many years. It didn't occur because of the SNC Lavalin case.
But this time, Prakash Karat (party general secretary) and the Politburo made a big mistake. After the case came up, they should have immediately called a meeting. They delayed the matter, the two sides openly spoke against each other in public and it became a serious issue. Remember, Kerala is the number one chapter of the party in India. I would say Prakash Karat has committed the second historical blunder.
You still believe that rejecting prime ministership for Jyoti Basu was a historical blunder?
Yes. And this is the second historical blunder. Actually, the politburo is divided on this issue. There is groupism in the party. Groupism is like cancer in the CPI(M). If not cured scientifically, the party's future can be in trouble.
I belong to the younger generation, young people who believe in Barack Obama's slogan of change. I also believe some things should change. For example, our stand on faith and religion. I had gone to Mecca. So many controversies were created. I don't blame the media for these controversies. I blame the party. There is a gap between its theories and practices. The party has changed its stand on foreign universities, on the patent Bill, on so many things. It should also modify its stand on religion and faith.
You are also opposed to hartals (strikes) and bandhs.
Yes. When I spoke against hartals, the CPI(M) district committee took action against me. Last year alone, there were 83 days of hartal in Kerala. We should not call useless hartals and bandhs. If we change our attitude towards hartals, investments will come to Kerala. I think the youngsters, middle class, the common people are with me on this issue.What a bad impact it is having on our society! My seven-year-old son, Amin, scolds me for opposing hartals. He says, "Papa, you are a fool. Hartal is good because I can play with my sister throughout the day." My fight against this hartal culture will continue. All political parties should take up this agenda.
Do you think Somnath Chatterjee's summary expulsion was a harsh step?
Somnath, Saifuddin (Chowdhury), Nripen Chakaborty, Gauriamma --all these leaders were victims of egoism and groupism. Fraternal malice is the basic problem of the CPI(M). Somnath, Saifuddin and even Abdullahkutty should be taken back and used by the party. A majority of the party members in West Bengal wants Somnath back in the party. But some headquarters people are against him. Personal jealousy of one top leader is preventing the party from bringing back Somnath.
Who is the top leader?
I don't want to name him. Everybody knows.
What about your immediate plan? Do you still expect to get a CPI(M) ticket for the coming elections?
Selection of candidates depends on the party. But I can claim that the party had given me some responsibilities which I have carried out successfully. I am a popular, dedicated and hardworking MP.
Have you got any offers from any other party?
Not only other parties but people also want me to carry on my political work, my development activities. When I spoke about Gujarat, actually I was sad. In my Dubai speech, I also mentioned Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Haryana's Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Modi while talking about development. EMS Namboodiripad had said in his Janagiasutranam (People's Planning) campaign, "Forgetting political differences, we should join hands for development." Even Joseph Stalin said that "there are two ways to overcome the development stagnation of the USSR. We should maintain our Russian revolutionary spirit while making the American efficiency our model". He said this on page 114 of his book, "Problems of Leninism." If all investments are going to Gujarat, then there must be something to learn (from the state).
No rebel has ever succeeded in his political career outside the CPI(M).
History will prove that the rebels were right.
But what will you do for the 2009 general elections?
I am a God-fearing communist. God and people will decide my future course of action.