Gold smuggling in pandemic & politics of cronyism – the Kerala communist model

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Had any other party’s chief minister’s office been embroiled in a scandal connected to the smuggling of gold in times of pandemic in the manner in which CPIM’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office is, the Indian commentariat would have made it daily breaking news and would have gone around telling the world on how the people of India have been let down. Had the Chief Minister belonged to the BJP, the heavens would have fallen, apocalypse would have been foretold and the BJP and its leadership would have been daily assailed and battered. But since it is a CPI(M) chief minister, the noise is muted, the Congress and members of its first family are silent, the intelligentsia is star-gazing and a deliberate attempt is being made to allow the story to either sink away or keep floating on the margins. Since it is a “secular” dispensation that is involved, these acts are interpreted, by a section of opinion makers and gate-keepers, as mere aberrations in the otherwise uninterrupted “peoples’ revolution.”

The Kerala gold smuggling episode with its links deep into the entrails of the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office is indeed an extremely disconcerting and dangerous development in terms of Indian’s national security. It has also exposed the manner in which cronyism has entangled the CPI(M) and its leadership in the state. That an element like Swapna Suresh, with a record of criminality and dubious dealings could have access to the inner circles of the CPI(M) Chief Minister is in itself cause for extreme concern. That no less a person like the Chief Minister’s principal secretary, M Sivasankar, a powerful senior bureaucrat who practically controlled the Chief Minister and his office, had such a close liaison with Suresh is also extremely disconcerting. Sivasankar, also the IT Secretary of the State and the Chairman of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSTIL) went out of his way to ensure that Swapna Suresh was recruited as manager at KSTIL. It has now come to light that Sivasankar used his office and standing to put forth Swapna Suresh’s name for the post through the international consultant PricewaterHouseCoopers. Why was Sivasankar so desperate in trying to ensure that Swapna Suresh got a job in KSTIL, was her links and network in power circles of the ruling CPI(M) an important reason for her to get this job? Why was Chief Minister Vijayan silent on this? How is it that adverse intelligence reports on Swapna Suresh’s past record, a crime branch case against her for forgeries done in 2013 were ignored when she was being recruited? It is said that phone calls were made from Chief Minister Vijayan’s office to the Customs trying to stall the investigations. This is the level of cronyism that the CPI(M) in Kerala has descended to. The links as they are unravelling does not end here. K.T.Jaleel, the CPIM’s minister for Higher Education, Wakf, Minority Welfare, and once a “firebrand” leader of the banned outfit SIMI, has been in close touch with Swapna Suresh as well.

But since it is Jaleel, an erstwhile SIMI and Muslim League leader, the protest against his misusing of public office is muted. The Left-Liberal intelligentsia in the country, which has a quick and biased opinion on the Delhi riots, which is fast in always demonising and castigating the majority community in India, have been silent on this. The CPI(M), for them, is always above reproach, since it is alone the “standard-bearer” of secularism in India!

The CPI(M), on its part, has always used Jaleel, who by his own admission is a “hard core religious man”, as a poster boy for its politics of Muslim appeasement. That Jaleel, who cut his political teeth in separatist politics of SIMI has been in touch with Suresh, the kingpin of the gold smuggling racket speaks volumes of the kind of degenerative and subversive politics that the CPI(M) has come to pursue and represent.

Yet Communists leaders across the country are tight lipped about these dangerous developments. Dangerous, if one examines the National Investigation Agency’s statements on the case. While taking over the case, the NIA, clearly stated, that as the “case pertains to smuggling of large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations threatening the economic stability and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act” and after initial investigation the NIA has come to the conclusion that “the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing of terrorism in India.” It has also emerged that smuggled gold could also have been used, among other things, to foment anti-CAA agitations. The CPI(M) politburo is silent on these developments, their Delhi based leaders with no popular base, are concerned about Kashmir and the CAA but have nothing to say, no action to take on these highly disturbing developments within the ranks of their party.

One is reminded of the last days of the Left Front in West Bengal, when its constituent parties led by the CPI(M) had begun resorting to the most violent and desperate kind of cronyism and syndicatism leading to its rout. The CPI(M) and its leaders had got themselves intertwined and enmeshed into such a miasmic web of “petty bourgeois” interests that the “revolution” and its “ideal” failed to sustain them anymore. It led them to fire on farmers in Nandigram, to try and suddenly jerk an industrial plan after having destroyed industry for over three decades and to terrorise the ordinary voter into voting them back. These expressions of hyper-cronyism destroyed the Left Front’s base in West Bengal. In the Kerala CPI(M )and left front, the trend is similar, only that its extra-territorial, dimension, connections and ramifications makes this brand of cronyism particularly dangerous for India.

The Kerala communists have always been a type apart. Basing themselves on hyperbole and hype, they have in fact, perpetrated a most dangerously intolerant politics. It has been their trait since the early years. In his foreword to a masterly treatise by Dr E. Balakrishnan, on the “History of the Communist Movement in Kerala”, one of the greatest thinkers to have emerged from among the nationalists in Kerala and in the Malayalam cultural, intellectual, philosophical discourse, late P. Parameshwaran, sometime also a front-ranking leader of the Jana Sangh, writes on how, the Kerala communists and for that matter communists across India, “claiming to follow Gandhiji, denounced him in the most uncharitable terms. While eulogising revolution, they betrayed the greatest revolutionary, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and showered him with the choicest abuses without decency or decorum.” In Kerala the Communists, P. Parameshwaran reminds us, “left no stone unturned to denigrate the most honest politician and sincere-most friend of the poor, Sri K Kelappan. Verbally unleashing volumes of propaganda against communalism, they made the worst compromises with it, thereby pushing Kerala into the mire of fundamentalism.” While the Kerala communists under the leadership of the likes of EMS Namboodiripad, tried to sabotage the freedom movement and abused leaders like Kelappan, revered by the people as “Kerala Gandhi”, they paid unabashed obeisance to the Islamists. In 1993, EMS, for example, publicly equated Abdul Nasser Madani, Islamic fundamentalist leader, accused in the Coimbatore serial blasts and Bangalore serial blasts with Mahatma Gandhi!

Veteran historian MGS Narayanan, for instances, describes the Communist façade best when he says, “communists are capable of creating a good image when they are in opposition, so long as they have no chance of wielding power…A romantic and utopian view of Communism is often found among intellectuals and social activists in areas which never had a taste of Communist rule with its hidden agenda of destroying national self-respect and communal harmony in order to impose the party’s hegemony.” In Kerala that hidden agenda is now being exposed. It has now gone a step ahead, tango with anti-India elements in order to pander and satiate politics of cronyism. For the Left-Liberal cartels, it is look-the-other-way, since these are “comrades”, who are involved.

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