Nuclear Meltdown: The Threat is Real for India

Japanese nuclear engineers are making heroic efforts at immense personal risk to prevent a steam explosion (not a nuclear explosion) in the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) at Fukushima. This is the point at which the design and construction standards of the concrete double containment structure of the nuclear reactor will have to withstand the explosion.

This could trigger a partial or total meltdown of the reactor core, similar to what happened in USA in 1971 in the Three Mile Island NPP. (This put the US nuclear power industry into the doldrums until USA revived it by negotiating the nuclear deal with India in 2009).

Japan has a reputation for good design and safety standards and good quality control and quality assurance in execution. It would be the fervent wish of every thinking person on the planet that the double containment will not fail and that the engineers will control the desperately delicate situation in the Daiichi NPP. Nobody is as yet even thinking of the costs of containing the accident and the subsequent nuclear clean-up.

But let us now cut to the nuclear situation in India. The issue of Indian design and construction quality standards stands naked when we note that the concrete containment dome of the Kaiga (Karnataka) NPP collapsed when under construction, and had to be rebuilt. It has not been revealed whether it was a failure of design or execution quality.

It is not possible to obtain reliable information regarding the operation, safety standards and performance or other cost, constructional or operational aspects of any NPP because of the following reasons: One, Section 18 (Restriction on disclosure of information) and Section 24 (Offences and penalties) of the draconian Indian Atomic Energy Act 1962, do not permit anybody to even ask questions about NPPs.

Two, nobody except the nuclear industry is permitted to conduct tests for radioactivity even outside the perimeter of any NPP. Three, the Environment Protection Act 1986, does not apply to NPPs. Four, the safety and monitoring agency (AERB) is not an independent agency and the public has to accept whatever health and safety information is released by the NPP or the AERB.

Five, the budget of the DAE is not placed even before Parliament and the power generation and efficiency figures are not available even to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). In short, the Indian nuclear industry is a closed door to the rest of India, and this can be at the cost of public safety and health.

Further, in the event of a nuclear accident, Government of India (GoI) has sought to cap or limit the liability of operators or suppliers of nuclear hardware and technology to assure profits to the US nuclear industry. In simpler language, this means that the real financial cost of post-accident nuclear clean-up and repair would be borne by India, as the liability of the suppliers would be limited to the cap amount, while the real costs of health and livelihood would be borne by the people.

In view of the secrecy and the poor standards of construction even in the nuclear industry, the conflicting parameters of safety, operational cost and radioactive emissions of any NPP leave the public to guess when one of India’s NPPs may suffer a serious accident, and whether we will be able to handle the disaster effectively and efficiently.

Indian nuclear engineers are second to none, thus the issue of safety in India’s nuclear establishment is institutional. The secrecy, intransparency, unaccountability and self-certification of the nuclear industry makes one doubt whether we will be able to prevent serious emergency or handle it effectively should it happen.

This also raises questions about the advisability of going for mega NPPs such as planned in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. This is quite apart from the fact of enormous resistance to its construction from local people on the grounds of livelihood and environment.

Let us hope that the Indian nuclear establishment would never need to handle a serious accident of the type of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or Fukushima.

SG Vombatkere


Manmohan Singh In Bottom Half Of ‘Most Powerful’ List; Pips Osama bin Laden To Claim #36 Spot

IT’S OFFICIAL. Manmohan Singh is indeed the weakest prime minister India has ever had.

No, I’ve not crossed over to the BJP. My information comes from a source much valued by the Prime Minister himself – the business magazine Forbes.

Forbes’ first ever list of the World’s Most Powerful People has only 67 slots – one for every 100 million people on the planet. And Manmohan Singh, at #36, is in the bottom half of the list. (In the NAM era, the Indian Prime Minister was ALWAYS at the top of the heap.)

Indeed, he ranks way below sundry central bankers, software developers, investment bankers, CEOs of Wal-Mart, GE, Berkshire, ExxonMobil and Toyota, Wall Street brokers, a football club owner, a telecom mogul, Rupert Murdoch, the mayor of New York, and even the propaganda chief of the Communist Party of China!

Saving India the blushes, Manmohan Singh has fortunately managed to beat Osama bin Laden, who’s just one step behind him, by a whisker. (Imagine the fun if the rankings were the other way round!) Indeed, it’s a telling comment from the oracles at Forbes that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Tenzin Gyato, aka the Dalai Lama, are snapping at Bin Laden’s heels at numbers 38 and 39.

And, hey, at #50, Dawood Ibrahim, described as the CEO of D-Company Inc. (you have to be a CEO in ANY Forbes’ List) hasn’t done too badly either. In fact, he’s ahead of Laxmi Mittal AND Ratan Tata!

Nevertheless, along with Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal and Ratan Tata, South Asia has done reasonably well. So what if the “most powerful” are actually feeding on crumbs.

The criterion for selection, according to the oracles at Forbes was quite straightforward.

“First, we asked, does the person have influence over lots of other people?… Then we assessed the financial resources controlled by these individuals. Are they relatively large compared with their peers? For heads of state we used GDP, while for CEOs, we looked at a composite ranking of market capitalization, profits, assets and revenues…Next we determined if they are powerful in multiple spheres… Lastly, we insisted that our choices actively use their power…

There are only 67 slots on our list – one for every 100 million people on the planet – so being powerful in just one area is not enough to guarantee a spot. Our picks project their influence in myriad ways…

To calculate the final rankings, five Forbes senior editors ranked all of our candidates in each of these four dimensions of power. Those individual rankings were averaged into a composite score, which determined who placed above (or below) whom…”

Well, the oracles have spoken. And here’s why these worthies from South Asia made it to the coveted List.

#36 Manmohan Singh: Has nuclear arsenal at disposal.

#37 Osama bin Laden: Casus belli of two US-lead wars costing over $1 trillion.

#38 Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani: (Though) less powerful than bin Laden – can’t find him in his own country – still has keys to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

#39 Tenzin Gyatso aka Dalai Lama: Tibetan exile keeps China honest.

#44 Mukesh Ambani: Busy building world’s first $1 billion home.

#50 Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar: As boss of Mumbai-based organized crime syndicate D-Company, reputedly oversees international drug trafficking, counterfeiting, weapons smuggling.

#55 Laxmi Mittal: Romance with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair exposed in 2002 ‘Garbagegate’, when Mittal reportedly sought Blair’s help in cash-for-influence bid for Romanian state steel mills.

#59 Ratan Tata: Calls Nano “The People’s Car”; in nation of a billion, environmentalists call it eco-disaster.

Then there’s an India List (total 7, i.e. one for every 150 million) compiled by Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta listing the Most Powerful Indians. Sorry, No ‘Paa’, SRK, Tendulkar, Katz, Mayawati, Advani, Pawar etc.

Here are the ‘Magnificent Seven’ and why they matter

#1 Sonia Gandhi: The most powerful Indian is an enigmatic woman of Italian origin. Her command over the Congress, India’s ruling party, is total.

#2 Manmohan Singh: Indians trust (him) to do the right thing – whether it’s economic reforms or the trade-off between development and social equity.

# 3 Nandan Nilekani: UID has fired the public imagination and drawn volunteers from all walks of life.

#4 Ratan Tata: Is India Inc’s best brand ambassador.

#5 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Offers (Art of Living) practitioners a tool to deal with urban angst.

#6 KG Balakrishnan: (The Chief Justice) ruled political parties cannot call for strikes that disrupt public life.

#7 Aamir Khan: (Surprise, surprise) As an actor and a filmmaker (he) has consistently demonstrated it is possible to break new ground in a business driven by clichés.

The Complete List

Barack Obama
Hu Jintao
Vladimir Putin
Ben S. Bernanke
Sergey Brin and Larry Page
Carlos Slim Helu
Rupert Murdoch
Michael T. Duke
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud
William Gates III
Pope Benedict XVI
Silvio Berlusconi
Jeffrey R. Immelt
Warren Buffett
Angela Merkel
Laurence D. Fink
Hillary Clinton
Lloyd C. Blankfein
Li Changchun
Michael Bloomberg
Timothy Geithner
Rex W. Tillerson
Li Ka-shing
Kim Jong Il
Jean-Claude Trichet
Masaaki Shirakawa
Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al Nahyan
Akio Toyoda
Gordon Brown
James S. Dimon
Bill Clinton
William H. Gross
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Lou Jiwei
Yukio Hatoyama
Manmohan Singh
Osama bin Laden
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Tenzin Gyatso
Ali Hoseini-Khamenei
Joaquin Guzman
Igor Sechin
Dmitry Medvedev
Mukesh Ambani
Oprah Winfrey
Benjamin Netanyahu
Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Zhou Xiaochuan
John Roberts Jr.
Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar
William Keller
Bernard Arnault
Joseph S. Blatter
Wadah Khanfar
Lakshmi Mittal
Nicolas Sarkozy
Steve Jobs
Fujio Mitarai
Ratan Tata
Jacques Rogge
Li Rongrong
Blairo Maggi
Robert B. Zoellick
Antonio Guterres
Mark John Thompson
Klaus Schwab
Hugo Chavez

Maoism In India: Left Sectarianism Is Anti-Worker & Anti-Peasant

There has been a spate of growing murder and violence in certain areas of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal by armed persons acting on behalf of the ‘CPI (Maoist)’.

The vicious violence unleashed by these death squads in various parts of the country must be condemned.

In West Bengal alone these death squads have targetted the CPI(M) and have killed more than 60 members and supporters of the Party in the past few months. Their use of the name of Mao Zedong, a widely respected figure, while carrying out the acts of carnage and killing, is reprehensible.

Such acts can also in no way be justified in the name of a war against the State. While every conscious citizen opposes acts of oppression committed by members of the exploiting classes or individuals in the State apparatus, the self-styled Maoists by their violent acts of vendetta, torture and gruesome killings, are gravely damaging the cause of the popular democratic movement. Indeed, they are in fact working against the interests of the workers and peasants.

In order to isolate the self-styled Maoists politically, it is important that the Indian State do all that is necessary to restore its presence and credibility in tribal areas whose interests it has largely been ignoring.

The Manmohan Singh government should review its neo-liberal policies that have pauperised the tribal people and help the state governments to meet their developmental challenges in these areas. Counter insurgency vigilante groups (such as Salwa Judum) have proved to be counter productive.

Harassment and killing of innocent local people should be avoided while tackling the violence, and those responsible for such acts in the name of fighting the “Maoists” should be punished. A genuine dialogue should be started with those “Maoists” who are ready to give up the path of armed struggle.

Watch this video in which CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat at a public meeting explains how the self-styled Maoists are working against the interests of the workers and peasants.

Global Warming: G8 Puts Cart Before The Horse

The G8 Summit at L’Aquila in Italy on July 8, 2009 was also the first annual G8 Summit since Barack Obama became US president after a campaign in which all presidential candidates promised to reverse the Bush-era US isolation on climate change and refusal to adopt a national policy of meaningful cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

This was followed by a meeting on July 9 with the G5 major emerging economies China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa and then a meeting with African leaders the next day focusing on Africa.

This so-called Heiligendamm Process, named after the venue of the G8 Summit in Germany in 2007, will apparently henceforth be called the Heiligendamm-L’Aquila Process. Why it misses the Japanese venue of Toyako where the G8 Summit was held in 2008 along similar lines, or whether names of every subsequent summit venue will keep being added on will remain one of those mysteries of international summitry.

In any case, the global economic meltdown and climate change dominated the first two days, the G8 discussing these issues first among themselves and on the second day with the G5, underlining the prevailing international hierarchy.

This shift in the national mood and in the balance of power within the US Congress, was also reflected in the recent passing of a US Climate Bill by a wafer thin margin by the House of Representatives putting forward, for the first time, national goals for GHG emissions reductions by the US which however fell far short of what would be required to stave off the looming climate crisis. There is also doubt whether the Bill will pass in the Senate and what form any joint Bill will take.

Against this background, and with the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen in December 2009 just around the corner, when a new post-2012 global agreement on climate is to be finalised, this Summit was expected to make substantial progress.

From the complete stalemate of a few months ago at meetings at Poznan and Bonn, some forward movement can be said to have been made at L’Aquila due partly to the new US position bolstered by passage of the Climate Bill.

However, again surely due to the US position on these issues, the L’Aquila Declaration targets for advanced countries still remain far below the requirement and fundamental issues of equity, funding and technology transfer are still to be properly addressed let alone resolved.

To top it all, the main points of the Declaration were pious and rather vague intentions regarding outcomes, not the robust mechanisms and milestones by which to achieve them.

Notional Goal

Much comment has been attracted by the statement in the Declaration of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, (i.e. G8 plus G5 countries) representing over 75 per cent of global GDP and GHG emissions, that these countries “recognise the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C.”

True, this is the first time that advanced industrialised nations have collectively recognised that a temperature rise of 2 degrees C constitutes an important and dangerous threshold. But there are two major problems with enunciating this as the goal.

First, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long been warning that, given present levels of accumulated GHGs in the atmosphere due to failures in meeting Kyoto Protocol targets and given current and potential trajectories of GHG emissions by major economies, 2 degrees C rise in temperatures with grave consequences are almost inevitable in the medium term, i.e. in two to three decades, unless drastic measures are taken in the short to medium terms.

Second, while setting a goal of a maximum 2 degrees C rise may be laudable, this is merely an aspirational target, and will remain just a statement of good intentions unless it is spelled out how this objective is proposed to be achieved in terms of short and medium-term emission reduction measures. Minus the latter, this is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse without which the destination cannot be reached. As the old saying goes, the road to damnation is paved with good intentions!

On emission reduction targets, the MEF Declaration is curiously silent, even though the G8 industrialised countries meeting the day before set themselves some targets. But the G8 plus G5 together only state that they will “work between now and Copenhagen… to identify a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050.”

The fact that this Declaration contains no emissions reduction targets is a pointer to the gulf that still separates the developed and the developing nations. The latter were clearly not too impressed with the goals set by the G8 the previous day, and the G8 in turn were pushing the G5 to make their own emission reductions commitments. And yet, some new formulations in both the G8 and MEF Declarations should be noted for their positive as well as negative connotations.

G8 Still Holding Back

The G8 Declaration at L’Aquila called for reducing global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 and, towards this end, also announced a “goal of developed countries reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate by 80 per cent or more by 2050 compared to 1990 or more recent years” (emphasis added).

IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report released in 2007 had called for stabilising atmospheric GHG concentrations at around 450 ppmv (parts per million by volume) and had stated that this would require global GHG emissions to start declining by 2015 and be less than 50 per cent of today’s levels by 2050, which would in turn require developed country emissions to reduce by 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

While the G8 target for global emissions in 2050 broadly corresponds to IPCC recommendations (qualifying clauses being discussed later), all other targets are far lower, with considerable significance for outcomes. The G8 targets, both global and for developed countries, are long-term ones, that is for 2050, with no medium-term targets for 2020 or 2030.

It is well known that if medium-term targets such as IPCC’s above are not achieved, GHG concentrations and temperature rise would have gone beyond the reach of the longer-term goals for 2050. In other words, the long-term goals mean little unless the medium term targets are achieved. The EU has been pushing hard for stringent emissions cuts by 2020, but again bowed before US pressure at the G8.

Why the US should have resisted shorter-term targets per se is unclear since the recently passed US Climate Bill too commits the US to interim targets. One possible explanation is that the US is still not ready to commit itself to a global Treaty and for its performance to be judged in an international forum.

The G8 obfuscation on the baseline year for these proposed emissions reductions has now become standard practice of the US and of all groupings in which the US is involved such as the G8, regardless of the stand of the EU or individual European countries like UK, Germany or France which favour strong interim targets against a 1990 baseline.

All IPCC recommendations too are for reductions below 1990 levels, which is the baseline set under the Kyoto Protocol. How much difference this can make can be understood from the fact that the US Climate Bill’s targets of 17 per cent reduction by 2020, 42 per cent by 2030 and 83 per cent by 2050, all relative to 2005, are equivalent to only 3 per cent, 33 per cent and 75 per cent reduction by 2020, 2030 and 2050 respectively below 1990 levels. (Incidentally, all these targets as passed by the House are for more reductions than proposed by president Obama at 15, 40 and 80 per cent respectively!) All this makes the desired outcome of restricting temperature rise to 2 degrees C that much less possible.

How toothless the G8 targets are was made abundantly clear by Canada immediately after the Summit. Canada, with one of the worst emissions records among developed countries, which has an already low target of reducing emissions 60-70 per cent below 2006 levels by 2050, pooh-poohed the G8 targets as merely “aspirational” and said that Canada saw no need to change its policy accordingly.

Developing Countries

The MEF Declaration issued jointly by the G8 and G5 countries allows the G8 obfuscation on medium-term targets and baseline years, notwithstanding the several additional clauses that are supposed to indicate the different thinking of the G5 and, by inference, other developing nations.

Thus, while endorsing the aspirational goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C and the mismatched long-term goal of the developed countries to reduce emissions by 2050, the MEF Declaration makes no mention of the important medium-term targets but only vaguely speaks of developed countries undertaking “robust aggregate and individual reductions in the midterm.”

The statement that the MEF countries would “work together before Copenhagen to achieve a strong result in this regard” inspires little confidence given the enormous leeway already conceded to the developed countries and the unwillingness to push them hard on the major issues.

Notably missing in the Declaration are any references to the responsibility of developed countries for historical emissions and therefore the necessity of these countries, following the “polluter pays” principle, making compensatory financial contributions enabling developing countries to adapt to climate changes and to adopt actions for mitigating GHG emissions.

Rather, the Declaration speaks in delightfully vague terms about such financial assistance and simply endorses a proposal by Mexico to set up a “Green Fund” without making clear the source of these funds. In fact, the Declaration merely says that “financing to address climate change will derive from multiple sources, including both public and private funds and carbon markets”, again avoiding the issue of the primary responsibility of developed countries in this regard.

Two formulations in the MEF Declaration are worthy of note. For the first time, the G5 has accepted that they “will promptly undertake actions whose projected effects on emissions represent a meaningful deviation from business as usual in the midterm” and that “the peaking of global and national emissions should take place as soon as possible,” implying that a capping of emissions from leading developing countries is now on the cards.

Regular readers will recall that these columns have been among the very few progressive and developing country voices, especially in India, that have advocated this position. However, we have argued that such a G5 position should be put forward conditional upon the developed countries committing themselves to deep emissions cuts along the lines recommended by the IPCC as well as to financial assistance and technology transfer to developing countries.

Given the absence of these latter in the L’Aquila G8 and MEF Declarations, the agreement of the G5 to slowing down rate of increase, then peaking and finally reduction of emissions may be seen as somewhat of a give-away.

A potentially significant new direction contained in the MEF Declaration, if sincerely meant, implemented and followed up, is that the G8 and G5 countries would “dramatically increase and coordinate public sectorinvestments in research, development, and demonstration of these (transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies technologies) with a view to doubling such investments by 2015.”

Emphasis till now, especially from the G8, has been on private sector R&D as well as on measures to protect the intellectual property rights (IPR) in this regard, which have been widely seen as working against the development and equitable spread of technologies leading to a low-carbon developmental trajectory.

In fact, even the L’Aquila G8 Declaration speaks of the “critical role of an efficient system of intellectual property rights (IPR) to foster innovation” and the development and diffusion of new technologies “particularly through the engagement and leveraging of critical private sector investment.” Who is bluffing, one wonders?

With all this waffling, the usual posturing by the developed countries and the yielding of ground by the EU on the one hand and by the G5 on the other, it is perhaps difficult to see where the global climate parleys will lead before, at and after Copenhagen. But reading the tea-leaves, some movement however small seems discernible from the total standstill of a year or two ago. Can serious negotiations begin now?


CPI(M) Purge Begins: Kerala CM Is First Casualty

The CPI(M) has finally gone about setting its house in order. And the purge has started at the very top. The senior-most leader who has made a big contribution to the party in Kerala, chief minister VS Achuthanandan, has been unceremoniously removed from the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) for “violation of organisational principles and discipline” by the Central Committee.

However, he has been allowed to “fulfil his responsibilities as the Chief Minister and as a leader of the Party.” Which means he will not have to step down immediately. It remains to be seen whether VS, as Achuthanandan’s is popularly known, abides by party discipline or take the road travelled by Somnath Chatterjee last year.

While the Central Committee is the highest authority of the Party between two all-India Party Congresses, the Polit Bureau carries on the work of the Central Committee between its two sessions and has the right to take political and organisational decisions in between two meetings of the Central Committee.

Achuthanandan’s expulsion from the Polit Bureau comes in the wake of the unprecedented factionalism in the Kerala unit of the CPI(M). Indeed, the factionalism had reached an extent that “alien trends among some Party members which violate Communist norms, adversely affected the performance of the Party” in the last Lok Sabha elections in which the LDF was routed, winning only 4 of the 20 seats in Kerala.

In its last meeting on June 20-21 the Central committee had noted that “all such and other shortcomings and weaknesses should be critically and self-critically examined and rectified. A rectification campaign should be organised within the Party against all the shortcomings, mistakes and deviations. The disunity and wrong trends should be firmly put down.” And a beginning has been made with Achuthanandan’s removal from the Polit Bureau.

The decision was taken after two days of intense debate on June 11 and 12 in which the Central Committee examined the report submitted by the Polit Bureau on the SNC Lavalin contract for the renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectric projects in Kerala, which were entered into by the UDF government in 1995-96 and which were subsequently implemented by the LDF government.

A communiqué to the media said: “The Central Committee is of the view that Com Pinarayi Vijayan, secretary of the Kerala State Committee and the Electricity Minister in the then LDF government between 1996-98 was not involved in any corrupt practice whatsoever. The Central Committee reiterated that the Party will fight the case politically and legally.”

But, of course, the Lavalin case is only a sideshow. Heads have started to roll mainly because of the CPI(M)’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections. The seats won by the LDF came down from 18 in 2004 to 4 in 2009 and only the CPI(M) in the LDF won seats in the elections.

The percentage of votes secured by the CPI(M) decreased by 3.16 per cent as compared to 2004 elections. The percentage of vote secured by the LDF declined from 46.08 in 2004 to 41.89 in 2009. On the other hand, the percentage of vote secured by the Congress-led UDF went up from 38.89 in 2004 to 47.75 in 2009 and seats from 1 to 16.

This is a fall of two lakh votes in this election for LDF compared to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and more than 9 lakh votes increase for UDF compared to 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Compared to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, LDF votes increased in 9 Lok Sabha constituencies and declined in 11 Lok Sabha constituencies this time. It is of little consolation to the Party that though its mass base was not substantially eroded, it lost ground especially among the Christians and Muslims.

Though the all-India trends influenced the elections in Kerala, there were the state-specific factors which decisively affected the elections. A section of the people who had rallied behind the LDF during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and 2006 Assembly elections moved away from the LDF with religious and caste leaders actively intervening in the elections in favour of the UDF.

The CPI(M) has conceded “the anti-Communist forces succeeded in weaning away a substantial section of Christian minorities from the LDF. The Catholic Church rallied other churches and openly campaigned against the CPI(M) due to its opposition to the Education Act which sought to put in place some social control over self-financed colleges. Certain other controversies also came up during this period.

“Though there is no erosion of support base among the Muslim minorities, the efforts to expand our influence among them did not yield the expected results in many areas. (More importantly) the UDF and the media were successful in creating some confusion among a section of the secular minded people that the CPI(M) is also resorting to an opportunistic stand in the matter of getting the support of Madani’s PDP to the LDF candidates.

“It may be necessary during elections to get support from different parties, groups and sections of people in elections, but at the same time, we should be careful to ensure that our secular identity does not get blurred by any such manoeuvres. We should have avoided having a joint platform with the PDP during the election campaign. It is to be noted here that the UDF got the support of the NDF or Popular Front which is an extremist outfit involved in communal and criminal activities.”

The most important conclusion reached by the Central Committee was on the factionalism plaguing the Kerala unit. “While the UDF was a united force, the disunity in the LDF was one of the factors for the defeat. The disunity in the Party and LDF had an adverse impact on the people. Some of Achuthanandan’s statements during the campaign had an adverse effect and helped the opposition campaign.

The public controversies that erupted in the LDF just on the eve of Lok Sabha elections conveyed an impression in the minds of the people that the LDF was
disunited and was fighting each other. It led to the dominant section of the JD(S) going out and opposing the LDF.

Even though the LDF government did many things for the common people, they were not adequately projected and people rallied to support, because of the never-ending controversies in the leadership of the Party and government.

Above all, the UDF made use of the SNC Lavalin case to create confusion in the minds of the people. The media used the Lavalin issue as the central issue in the elections. In fact media reports were mainly confined only to three issues – the Lavalin controversy, PDP’s support to the LDF and disunity in the Party and the LDF.

However, the Party failed to assess the magnitude of the setback till the counting day. In its assessment, the Central Committee said,”We were hopeful of getting more than a majority of seats for the LDF. The Party has to identify why such a wrong estimation was made. It should be examined whether factionalism has adversely affected the organisational work in certain areas.”

The Central Committee’s communiqué today has confirmed that factionalism in the CPI(M) can no longer be swept under the carpet, as in the past. Indeed, Achuthanandan’s removal from the Polit Bureau is just the beginning. The purge – or the “rectification campaign against all the shortcomings, mistakes and deviations” – has to go down to the primary unit level to rebuild the CPI(M) into a fighting machine it once was.

Roger And Out