Dear Sitaram Yechury, You Have Betrayed The Students' Federation of India

01/04/2016 7:28 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury speaks to the media outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 23, 2006. The Indian Parliament closed Tuesday after the summer session. (AP Photo/Ajit Kumar)

Dear Mr Yechury,

I sincerely urge you to wind up the Students' Federation of India. This is not meant to embarrass you. As one of the most important national leaders to emerge from the students' movement and the SFI, I am sure you will agree with my concerns when you read my letter fully.

I am an old student organizer of the SFI. I spent more time organizing students and luring them into the SFI than studying. I remain a Marxist. But I strongly feel that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership has betrayed the SFI. That's why there is no reason for the SFI to continue as a student organization linked to the CPI(M). Since it can't shut itself down, you should do the honours.

When we fought Nikesh Kumar in college, we thought we were fighting his murder-accused father, M.V. Raghavan, at our own level.

You may wonder why I am being so insistent.

The CPI(M) is backing MV Nikesh Kumar as a candidate in a constituency in Kannur. I was a student leader when he was involved in student politics. Unfortunately, we were on the opposite sides of the political divide. Nikesh Kumar was quintessentially a "mantri-putran" or a minister's son, enjoying all the privileges that such a scion may expect. His politics was a mere extension of his father's anti-CPI(M), anti-people, anti-youth and anti-Left politics. That the glib Nikesh could effectively campaign and win over minds in our campus is a testimony to my failure as an SFI campaigner.

But we fought him tooth and nail, primarily because his campaign and his campus politics coincided with his father's notorious misadventure at Koothuparamba, which led to the death of our five comrades in police firing. When we fought Nikesh Kumar in college, we thought we were fighting his murder-accused father, M.V. Raghavan, at our own level. When we were defeated, we were doubly distressed because we felt that it was the victory of Raghavan's murderous politics. There was nothing to differentiate Raghavan and Nikesh. One was just a younger version of the older malaise.

Now, when the police have registered an FIR against him on the basis of a complaint of fraud, cheating and forgery...the party is supporting him as an independent candidate.

After college, Raghavan helped Nikesh get a job in a popular TV channel. I, like thousands of former SFI member, went about ploughing my lonely field. I turned to small-time business--falling, bruising, losing and at times winning. I have never had any complaints about my past or my part in campus politics. We were proud of what we stood for in the SFI. Our politics was our expression of our personality and our attempt to create a more equal, fraternal and Left Liberal campus. And I am sure that I too have succeeded to some extent like thousands of other SFI cadres.

Meanwhile, Nikesh went from success to success, heading the news channel owned by a Muslim League minister in the UDF government. I didn't see much public-spirited journalism from him. Finally, after almost bankrupting the Muslim League minister, Nikesh set out to launch his own channel with an initial investment from one Laliya Joseph, a wealthy homemaker who had some experience and interest in the media.

Since he began owning and running a channel, he obviously needed more money and his conduct became questionable. And that was when he made his Leftward shift. It is shocking to note that he was accepted as a friend and well-wisher by the CPI(M) leadership of Kerala. This speaks volumes about the political commitment of the party leadership in the state. Now, when the police have registered a first information report against him on the basis of a complaint of fraud, cheating and forgery by the channel's co-promoter, the very same Laliya Joseph and when he is battling a case in the local court seeking anticipatory bail, the party in its infinite wisdom is supporting him as an independent candidate. This means several things to people like me:

• That the party is in cahoots with tainted people masquerading as journalists.

• That the party does not even remember the sacrifice of the five brave DYFI comrades at Koothuparamba.

• That the party is so politically bankrupt that it needs people who are under a pending investigation to contest the polls for reasons best known to the state leadership.

• And worst of all, that the party does not attach any importance to student politics or the role played by a candidate as a student.

This is not about Nikesh Kumar. This is all about... a strange disease that is eating away the heart and soul of the party.

Why continue with the SFI if you want to field KSU leaders as CPI(M) candidates? Shut it down. Now, you may argue that a KSU leader can have a change of heart and become a good Marxist or at least a good Leftist. Sure, it is possible. Cherian Philip is the best example of a Congressman-turned-Leftist. But then, Philip is not a tainted person. There are no police complaints or FIRs pending against Philip for cheating, fraud and forgery. There is no complaint against Cherian for ill treating his employees.

As I have mentioned earlier, I am a small-time businessman. My biggest nightmare is defaulting on the salaries of my employees. Like most struggling, honest businessmen, I have pawned family jewellery, sold many things and begged and borrowed money to honour the salary cheques of my colleagues. Nikesh Kumar is now facing arrest for not paying his employees' PF dues, after deducting it from them. And you, as the supreme leader of a worker's party, are planning to field an employer like him. Sad.

You might wonder why I wasted your time and mine by writing so much about just one candidate for an Assembly constituency. This is not about Nikesh Kumar. This is all about your party, which is mine too. And about a strange disease that is eating away the heart and soul of the party. Whatever you do, it is not going to change my politics because I have inherited it. Like diabetes, politics is also passed on from one generation to another in our family, and mine was converted to Left politics long ago by the great, immortal leader, Comrade Krishna Pillai.

Lal Salam.

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