The State Committee of the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is in session at the State capital, Trivandrum. Several All-India leaders are taking part.
A few days back a Kerala leader of this Party, who is undergoing a contempt of Court case, made a rather sensational remark – Jesus Christ and Prakash Karat, the All India General Secretary of the party are alike. One thing that I am sure of is that Karat will not be crucified.
The criticisms that some people might raise against Karat – perhaps trying to prevent Jyothi Basu from becoming the Prime Minister of India, withdrawing the support to the Congress during the last Parliament so that the government could implement the policies the Marxists opposed, and administratively reducing the Party to the district sized Tripura. None of this requires crucifixion in democratic countries.
But Karat is facing a major problem. He heads a party which has no manifesto. That is not his fault. Initially there was Russia for money and methods. Then it was China. VS Achudanandan, former Chief Minister and present Leader of the Opposition in Kerala State was, it is said, demoted from the Central Committee of the Party for donating blood to the Indian Army when China attacked India. But the Asian neighbour is now becoming a capitalist country. I don’t think that anyone would claim that N.Korea and Cuba are democratic countries and their systems can work in India.
But some Latin American ideologies could give a bit of hope to CPI (M). Ernesto "Che" Guevara (14 June 1928 –9 October 1967) was a combination of many things – medical doctor, intellectual, Marxist revolutionary, writer, military theorist and diplomat. There is Venezuela as well. Reportedly, the Indian Marxists are trying to form a manifesto on Latin American model, with some changes to suit India.
I wonder how many Indian Communists know the name MN Roy (1887 - 1954). He was the most intellectual and the only internationally accepted Indian Communist leader. He and Vladimir Lenin worked together. He formed the first Communist Party outside Russia, in Mexico. He then organized the Communist Party of India October 17, 1920 at Tashkent. When Joseph Stalin started transforming Communism into dictatorship, MN Roy left the scene.
The Oxford University Press has published four volumes of MN Roy’s writings. Because the Project Editor died in 2008, further publications have stopped. CPI (M) could go through the ones that are available and hopefully get some ideas for their new manifesto.
Back to Jesus Christ. Even before the CPI split in 1964, the Party quietly revived utsavams (festivals) in several Kerala temples. This provided them a great propaganda opportunity. In the 1950s and 1960s, the most appreciated entertainment in Kerala was the left oriented dramas by Kerala People’s Art Club (KPAC). The songs from those plays could be heard everywhere.
In the 1990s the Christian churches were targeted. The operators assigned for this were mostly Pulaya converts to Christianity who were actually loyal to the left. They started getting into the Parish Committees which manage the church affairs. The priests could not have been blind to this development. In my parish when a party and church committee member died, to start the last rites, the priest had to wait outside the man’s house till the Communist leaders left after their procedures.
Well, at the State Committee meeting the CPI (M) exhibited a picture of Jesus on Cross, along with those of the Communist revolutionaries. Different leaders praised Christ as a great revolutionary. One even quoted Fidel Castro saying in 1971 that there are 10,000 similarities between the Bible and the Communist dogma based on dialectical materialism. I suppose that nobody would bother to count.
Jesus Christ Super Star? Or should it be Lal Salam (Red Salute), Jesus Christ?