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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 31, New Delhi, July 18, 2020

Animal Farm Politics of the Left | Sukumaran C.V.

Friday 17 July 2020, by Sukumaran C.V.


It was more than 25 years ago, in 1994, I bought my own copy of Taslima Nasreen’s Lajja and virtually devoured it. No other contemporary work of literature has shaken me as Lajja has. The following lines she wrote in the Preface of Lajja reveal how true a secularist Taslima Nasreen is: “I detest fundamentalism and communalism. This was the reason I wrote Lajja soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. The book, which took me seven days to write, deals with the persecution of Hindus, a religious minority in Bangladesh, by the Muslims who are in the majority. It is disgraceful that the Hindus in my country were hunted by the Muslims after the destruction of the Babari Masjid. All of us who love Bangladesh should feel ashamed that such a terrible thing could happen in our beautiful country. The riots that took place in 1992 in Bangladesh are the responsibility of us all, and we are all to blame. Lajja is a document of our collective defeat. Lajja was published in February 1993 in Bangladesh and sold 60,000 copies before it was banned by the government five months later—their excuse was that it was disturbing the communal peace. In September that year a fatwa was issued against me and there have been marches on the streets of Dhaka by communalists clamouring for my life....The disease of religious fundamentalism is not restricted to Bangladesh alone and it must be fought at every turn. For myself, I am not afraid of any challenge or threat to my life. I will continue to write and protest persecution and discrimination. I am convinced that the only way the fundamentalist forces can be stopped is if all of us who are secular and humanistic join together and fight their malignant influence. I, for one, will not be silenced.”

While the so called secularists and communists use the idea of secularism not to really secularise themselves and the nation but as a political tool to secure (minority) votes and thus to cling on to power giving all kinds of freedoms for the religions to kill reason and secular way of life, the real secularists and humanists like Taslima Nazrin are forced to be in exile, to lead the life of refugees, hunted by the fanatics and discarded by the ’secularists’.

And now, Taslima Nasreen wrote Shameless, a sequel to Lajja, in 2017 and its English translation was published in April 2020.

Lajja tells the story of how Suranjan, a staunch secularist, had to leave Bangladesh as his sister was raped and killed in the communal killings erupted in Bangladesh as an aftermath of the Babari Masjid demolition.

Suranjan left Bangladesh for India because, as Taslima Nasreen writes in the last chapter of Lajja: “There was absolutely no one to depend upon. He was an alien in his own country.”

And it is really painful to read in the “Author’s Note” at the very beginning of Shameless: “I had lived in Europe for over a decade after I had to leave Bangladesh, and was now settled in Kolkata. The state government was putting pressure on me to leave West Bengal. Where would I go leaving my home in Kolkata behind? Which country could I call my own?”

These same questions haunted Suranjan and in Shameless, Taslima Nasreen meets Suranjan who tells her:

‘I am Suranjan. Don’t you recognize me? You wrote a novel about me.’

‘A novel?’

‘Yes, a novel. You called it Lajja. Don’t you remember?’

Taslima Nasreen uses novel techniques in fiction. Lajja was written uniquely. It can be read as a novel, as news reports and as contemporary history of the Indian subcontinent. However we read it, it is engrossing. And in Shameless, we have the wonderful experience of the character meeting the writer and the writer too becomes character.

The author-character Taslima tells Suranjan in the first chapter of Shameless:

‘The religious fanatics were furious with me because I criticised Islam. All religions are a roadblock to women’s freedom.’

Taslima Nasreen categorically revealed this truth in Lajja two decades ago and she had to flee her country for writing the novel. Two decades after, Taslima Nasreen is still unflinching in her stand against patriarchy and religious fundamentalism, the two sides of the same coin. Apart from seeing fundamentalism being ripped apart, in this novel we see the present condition of the idea of communism too portrayed realistically.

The author-character Taslima asks Suranjan in the fifth chapter of Shameless:

‘You used to believe in communism once. You haven’t joined the CPI(M) here?’


‘Why not?’

‘There’s no communism anywhere in the world. They are more capitalist than capitalists themselves.’

‘Everything evolves.’

Suranjan smiled. ‘That’s just an excuse, claiming to be marching with the times when all you’re doing is protecting the interests of the rich.’

o o

The terrible manifestation of protecting the interests of the rich or anti-social elements, who accumulate money by hook or by crook, and the bureaucrats who do have close links with such elements by the so-called communists or the Left, is seen enacted in Kerala today.

The present LDF government in Kerala headed by the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrested power from the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government in 2016 with their election campaign that revolved mainly around a lady and her alleged nefarious deals using her access to the then CMO. This lady who achieved access to the CMO using a gunman of the CMO was alleged to have embezzled money from people across the State in the name of specious solar energy projects. The LDF propagated that the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy himself was one of the accomplices of this lady and virtually paralysed the functions of the government in the name the Solar Scam, and thus succeeded to gain power mainly using this issue.

Now it is revealed that a high profile lady named Swapna Suresh, who is the second accused in the case of 30-kilogram gold smuggled through the diplomatic parcel addressed to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, and who is now in the NIA custody, managed to be the Operations Manager of the Space Park project under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) which is an entity that works under the IT department. And this lady has allegedly been involved in gold smuggling of unprecedented dimensions. When the IT secretary Mr. Sivasankaran has signed an agreement with the Sprinkler company for Covid data analysing by sidelining the procedural precedents and formalities, the Chief Minister unequivocally justified him. And the KSITIL was under the direct control of the IT secretary Sivasankaran who was also the Principal Secretary of the CM, and he was the Chairman of KSITIL too. And the concrete evidence of this man’s wayward relationship with this alleged smuggler woman have been surfaced/surfacing. That means this lady might certainly have used her connection with the Principal Secretary for her alleged nefarious deeds.

This lady was an HR professional and secretary to one Mr. Binoy, who was the vice-president of Air India SATS. She has framed L S Sibu, an honest official of the ground handling department of Air India, in a sexual harassment case for his exposing a murky deal in which Binoy and she were involved [1] . And the honest official had to fight for five years to prove his innocence. At last the Kerala High court ordered the Crime Branch to register a case against the lady. But the Crime Branch has not yet registered any case against her. In the news report published by The New Indian Express (Crime Branch closed forgery case against Swapna owing to lack of evidence, July 8, 2020) it is said: "The influence of the key suspect in the sensational gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh in the corridors of power yet again came to the fore as the former Crime Branch team which investigated the forgery case against her tried to hush up the case citing lack of evidence. The FIR against Binoy and Swapna was registered on March 15, 2016, by Valiyathura police on the basis of a complaint by L S Sibu, a direct employee of Air India who alleged that a sexual harassment complaint was forged against him. Later the case was handed over to the Crime Branch. M S Santhosh, who was in charge of the investigation, submitted a report to the High Court on Feb. 27, 2017 that the sexual harassment case against Sibu will not stand as the probe found that the complaint against him was forged and Swapna had forced 17 female employees to file the complaint. "But the officer later tried to settle the case following the alleged influence of Binoy and Swapna," said Sibu."

Now the news is surfacing that the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary himself called the Crime Branch officials in favour of this lady. You should remember that the Chief Minister is also the Home Minister! That means the Principal Secretary of the CM is also the Principal Secretary of the Home Minister. Can the Crime Branch that comes under the Home Ministry register any case against the lady who is having close connections with the Principal Secretary?

This lady has submitted a fake certificate to prove her educational qualification to get the post in KSITIL. The LDF government has not yet (till I write this article on July 12) ordered an enquiry into this matter. Who interviewed her? Who appointed her? And this lady who is involved in gold smuggling has been using the letterhead of the Kerala Government printed and allowed to her by the IT department! Why doesn’t the CPI(M) or the LDF government feel this issue should be thoroughly investigated and the culprits should be exemplarily punished?

The office-bearers of the residents’ association of the flat-complex where Swapna was residing say that Mr. Sivasankaran was a frequent visitor to this lady’s flat [2]! And when the gold smuggling case unveiled, there was triple lockdown in the capital city of Kerala to check the community spread of the novel coronavirus. And this lady escaped from the city. Could she do so without having help from the affluent corners? And the Communist Chief Minister simply asked Mr. Sivasankaran to go on leave [3]instead of suspending him and ordering an enquiry. Why? He was an SFI leader and is a staunch CPI(M) supporter. Is there any other reason, per se, a conflict of interests?

The Chief Minister’s daughter is a director of an IT company called Exalogic Solutions. The Chief Minister had awarded the consultancy of the rupees 4,500 crore estimated E-mobility project to Pricewaterhouse Coopers Company (PwC) without open tender/bid [4]. Jait Balakumar who has been one of the directors of the PwC is a consultant of Exalogic Solutions. If you smell murky and surreptitious dealings, it is not your fault. It doesn’t mean you are an anti-Left, anti-Marxist and anti-Communist. It does mean that those who claim they are Marxists, they belong to the Left, they are Communists, do more horrible, more nefarious, more nepotistic and more corrupt and immoral dealings/activities than the others whom they criticise for the same.

And it is alleged that Mr. Sivasankaran was the bureaucrat who helped disappear an official file relating to SNC Lavalin scam that was crucial to implicate Mr Vijayan [5]. Now we can guess why Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also the IT Minister, doesn’t have the guts to proceed against his former IT Secretary and his nefarious dealings with a nefarious lady who has allegedly been part of a gold smuggling racket long since. The lady and her accomplices are in the NIA custody at present. She was nabbed by the NIA team from Bengaluru. And the greatest irony is that the CPI(M) leaders, who keep mum when asked by the press people how the lady could escape from Thiruvananthapuram which was under triple lockdown and is controlled by the police force that is under the direct control of the Chief Minister who is also the Home Minister, ask how the lady could reach Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka which is ruled by the BJP! And they say that it reveals the BJP’s connection with the gold smuggling racket? What kind of Left politics it is!

Such incidents remind me of George Orwell’s subtle political satire Animal Farm. After ousting Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, the animals under the leadership of the two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, paints out its original name and in its place paints Animal Farm. Then Snowball writes down the Seven Commandments on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away: 1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. 2. Whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is a friend. 3. No animal shall wear clothes. 4. No animal shall sleep in a bed. 5. No animal shall drink alcohol. 6. No animal shall kill any other animal. 7. All animals are equal.

Some times later, there arises a power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball, and Napoleon successfully makes the other animals believe that Snowball is a traitor; thus the second commandment is violated. Then Napoleon starts to wear the clothes left by the erstwhile owner of the farm and sleeps on his bed and starts drinking the alcohol left in the cellar. Thus the third, fourth and fifth commandments are violated. At last Snowball is killed, thus the sixth commandment is violated. No animal does have the guts to question Napoleon because those who dare to question him will be accused of treason by the Animal State. And when the horse was old and could not work it was labelled as useless and Napoleon sells it to a human butcher with whom he had developed ’diplomatic relations’, violating the first commandment. And the animals realise that they were better off when they were under their human owner. Everyday they read the meaningless seven commandments and the seventh commandment seems to mock them. But one day, they couldn’t believe their eyes. "On the wall there was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

The Left is being eliminated from all over the world because of their strict adherence to the Animal Farm politics. As Jawaharlal Nehru says in The Discovery of India, "A civilization decays much more from inner failure than from an external attack. It may fail because in a sense it has worked itself out and has nothing to offer in a changing world, or because the people who represent it deteriorate in quality and can no longer support the burden worthily."

There are no better words to show the deterioration of the Left politics in India, especially in Kerala today.

PostScript: Mr. Sivasankaran was suspended on July 16 and an enquiry into all the appointments in the IT department was ordered. Sivasankaran has been questioned by the Customs officials for ten hours starting from 5.30pm on July 14 to the wee hours of July 15 in connection with the gold smuggling case and the Customs seized his mobile phone. The news channels were flashing the call list of Mr. Sivasankaran, the former IT Secretary and Principal Secretary of the Chief Minister of Kerala, and the call list shows that Sarith, the first accused of the gold smuggling case, who is now in the custody of the Customs officials, and the second accused Swapna Suresh, who is in the NIA custody, called many times to the number (9847797000) of Sivasankaran, and the call list shows Mr. Sivasankaran called the accused too, many times. There is even a Minister of the LDF government in the call list of Swapna and the list shows that the Minister has called her nine times in June, 2020. And evidence surfaced for the involvement of Mr. Sivasankaran in arranging an apartment for the accused woman and her accomplices who smuggled 30 kg gold through the diplomatic parcel. And yet the LDF government was not ready to suspend him. The Chief Minister who promptly suspended Jacob Thomas, an upright IPS officer, for writing a book in which he revealed some unpalatable truths, virtually tried to protect Sivasankaran even when his connections with the anti-social elements surfaced with concrete proofs. Hence, the belated suspension has only helped to further damage the image of the government. If he had been suspended the moment his close connection with the woman who is now in the NIA custody was unequivocally revealed and proved with visual evidence more than a week ago, the image would not have irreparably been damaged. While there are millions of highly educated people who try hard to make both ends meet without having decent jobs, trying to protect a conferred IAS officer who helped an unqualified lady with a fake certificate to grab a post that requires academic brilliance and personal integrity amounts to mock the general public whose uplifting is supposed to be the ultimate aim of the Left, the Communists, the Marxists.

[1Post gold haul, more skeletons tumble out of Swapna’s cupboard, The New Indian Express (July 7, 2020).

[2[ii] IT secretary regularly visited Swapna’s flat,, July 7, 2020.

[3Kerala Gold Smuggling: Pinarayi Vijayan forced to ditch trusted aide M Sivasankaran as smuggling plot thickens. The Free Press Journal, July 7, 2020.

[4Congress alleges corruption in Kerala govt roping in PwC for e-mobility project, livemint e-paper, June 28, 2020.

[5Case against Kerala home minister, Vijayan over missing file, Hindustan Times, April 13, 2009.

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