Hammer and tongs
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Disbanding of SFI unit in JNU frames the CPM's enduring troubles with persuasion and dissent
Even when the deep communist dream shattered to smithereens from Moscow to Bucharest, it lived on, cossetted, in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. It thrived in the graffiti on its library walls, in the impassioned speeches in hostel messes and in the torch-lit processions that called out to Ho Chi Minh. Now, the citadel of the SFI, the political nursery of some of the CPM's tallest leaders, including general secretary Prakash Karat, has cracked. The university's SFI unit has been disbanded after it echoed the lines of Prasenjit Bose, also a former student who resigned from the CPM protesting the party's decision to support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee as president.
Supporting Mukherjee's candidature appeared to be a pragmatic step for the party that had lost power in both its bastions of Kerala and West Bengal and clout in national politics after parting ways with the UPA. The decision to support Mukherjee had found critics in Kerala as well, but what the state leaders could come to terms with as politics in praxis seems to have been lost on comrades schooled in theories in the university. Out of power, the CPM is finding it hard to explain its programmes to its young believers even in what has long been considered its ideological heartland.
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