A rebel’s manifesto


Kesavadev   | Photo Credit: For mp


A little known booklet, Communist Vadhayanthram: Trotskymuthal Beriavare by P. Kesavadev slams Stalin’s Russia

He was a true rebel. Right from changing his name from P. Kesava Pillai to Kesavadev because he felt that it was indicative of his higher caste, he was a rebel in life and literature. His 110th birthday was celebrated on July 20. When he died in 1983, Kesavadev left behind a rich oeuvre of novels, plays, short stories, essays, autobiography, political writings and a prose poem. Bold, radical in thought and words Kesavadev was also a brilliant orator.

Not listed among his works is Communist Vadhayanthram: Trotskymuthal Beriavare ( Communist Killing Machine: From Trotsky to Beria) a small booklet, just 29 pages, written by Kesavadev in 1953. In this power-packed work he goes hammer and tongs against Joseph Stalin’s brand of Communism. Very few copies of this booklet are available today. Political commentators, writers, and literary critics who have not seen this booklet but have only been privy to excerpts of it believe this to be a ‘treasure’ that throws light on Kesavadev’s political thought.

Kesavadev was one who declared himself a Communist long before the party had any footing in Kerala. He was inspired by the Russian Revolution. He even published a booklet on the Russian Revolution, Agniyum Spulingavum ( Fire and Spark) and distributed it personally. Later he became disillusioned with the changes in Russia after the revolution and turned anti-communist.

Communist Vadhayanthram begins with the ‘shocking news’ of the killing of Lavrentiy Beria in 1953. Beria, chief of the Soviet security and secret police under Stalin during World War II and Deputy Premier after the War, was charged with treason and shot dead. Taking off from there Kesavadev goes on a tirade against the cruelties during Stalin’s regime and the annihilation of the enemies of the establishment.

“This booklet can trigger a debate. Kesavadev will always be remembered for his bold, rebellious attitude to life. And he was not scared to express it publicly. As far as I know he turned anti-communist following the Ranadive Thesis and the communist line of thought during the freedom struggle. Many writers and intellectuals felt the same but C.J. Thomas and Kesavadev, were the prominent among them who voiced their protest openly. But most of Kesavadev’s vitriolic was reserved for his speeches. Though some of his works like his play Mazha Angum Kuda Ingum subtly spoke of all this, it never went beyond the limits of a literary work. This must be that rare work where he opens up without barriers,” feels Dr. K.G. Paulose, Sanskrit scholar and former Vice-chancellor, Kerala Kalamandalam.

Published by Sree Rama Vilas Press, Quilon, Communist Vadhayanthram, is sometimes inconsistent in its narrative. Spurred by the death of Beria, Kesavadev ends by saying that if it is Beria now who knew if it would be Malenkov (Georgy) next. And in between he castigates Beria for being responsible for genocide. “One is not sure for whom Kesavadev wrote this booklet and among whom it was distributed. Getting news from behind the Iron Curtain those days was close to impossible. If he got it, he must have had help from communist insiders. This booklet is relevant,” says former MP and political analyst, Sebastian Paul.

“His autobiography was aptly titled Ethirppu ( Revolt). His writings in general presented the true socio-cultural situation of the times. He was always truthful and honest in his writings and in his beliefs. This was because he had the courage of conviction. In this context this work, which was in a way lost, can throw up interesting facets of his political thought. I think this work will ignite heated debates,” says noted novelist E.P. Sreekumar.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:17:17 AM |

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