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Old January 26th, 2005, 11:23 PM
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Talking Communists Try Out New Secular Technique In Kerala

Move over Marx, Stalin & Che, Arafat is CPM’s new poster boy

For its state meet in Kerala’s Muslim heartland, comrades repackage Palestinian leader, sidelines its pantheon

RAJEEV P I

Posted online: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 0129 hours IST

Yasser Arafat MALAPPURAM, JANUARY 26: Struggling to shake off its anti-Muslim tag in the community’s Kerala stronghold of Malappuram, the CPM has now turned to an unlikely saviour who died in a military hospital in distant Paris nearly three months ago—Yasser Arafat.

With three weeks to go for the party’s state conference here, the Palestinian leader is staring down from hundreds of colourful CPM posters and placards on streets here, complete with headgear and holstered revolver.

The common punchline: ‘Welcome to a Reddening Eranadu’ (earlier name for the area in north Kerala). In fact, in places like Kondotty, the PLO leader has completely sidelined Karl Marx, Stalin and even the dashing Che Guevera.

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CPM spokesman and convenor of the party-backed Opposition alliance Left Democratic Front (LDF), Paloli Mohammed Kutty, says Arafat is not the property of the Indian Union Muslim Leauge (IUML), the overwhelmingly dominant political force in these parts.

And this is not the first time the CPM is using him to campaign, too, says Kutty. ‘‘We had used posters and pictures of Arafat and Saddam Hussain in our anti-imperialism campaign during the 1991 Gulf War. Arafat symbolises the world’s fight against imperialism. If the League wants, it can use his pictures for its own conferences,’’ Kutty told The Indian Express.

The party conference in League country will mainly aim at building on the CPM’s stunning win in IUML bastion, Manjeri, during the last Lok Sabha polls, with substantial help from a breakaway faction. And hopefully, say observers, paper over the deep divide within between secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Politiburo member and CM-in-waiting V S Achuthanandan.

Most importantly, the Assembly polls are just a year away, and the CPM is keen to move on from its current positions on three issues that has given the League enough reasons to accuse it of an anti-Muslim bias:

• Vocal and violent protests in Kerala’s most infamous sex scam that contributed to League leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty quitting

• Strident Opposition to the inclusion of the League’s E Ahamed in the Union Cabinet, calling that ‘‘anti-secular’’

• Repeated assertion that the League is a communal outfit

And that’s why Arafat is a clever cover.

Malappuram is where any upheaval or movement in the international Muslim world immediately finds resonance, where hundreds of children born during and after the 1991 Gulf War were called Saddam, and where even an important local beach bears the Iraqi dictator’s name.

The less-flamboyant Arafat did not strike as deep a chord here when he died, but hundreds of Malappuram mosques held special prayers for ‘‘Abu Ammar’’. Then again, Arafat’s politics may not have been widely understood in these less-literate parts, but what he stood for certainly was.

Says a senior leader of the DYFI, the CPM’s youth organisation: ‘‘Arafat was a very religious man. But he was very close to the Soviet Union and Communism, and a great anti-zionist and anti-imperialist. This shows there is no dichotomy in being a Muslim and a Communist.’’

But the League leaders are unfazed. IUML sources say they are ready with counters for the Arafat strategy.

• Israel trip of former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu in 2000, where he famously said there was ‘‘an overarching consensus among political parties in India about Israel’’, and that ‘‘a kibbutz (commune) is the only place where communist principles are practised in a true sense’’.

• Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s Israel visit to draw investment for the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) that he chaired

Of course, a chunk of this debate may not enthuse average voters here. Unless they are aware of the many contradictions in the Arafat strategy—either away.

For instance, one of Arafat’s closest allies was King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who once famously said that Communism is Zionism and vice versa, when the Palestinian leader was warming up to Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Then there’s this quotable quote from Arafat himself: ‘‘Whoever doesn’t have an uncle, buys an uncle. Israelis have Americans, so Palestinians can have the Soviets.’’

CPM Exploits Muslim Sentiments Towards Their Arab Leaders
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Old January 27th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Thumbs down This is a dangerous trend

First Paswan uses a OBL look alike for his election campaign
and now these morons want that terrorist Arafat resurrected!!
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Old January 27th, 2005, 08:57 PM
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Thumbs down

This goes to prove what the definition of secularism is in the Indian context. I shudder to think what would happen if the passive hindus were turned into minority.
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