Kerala

RSP in a fight to stay afloat in State politics

The party will be wiped off the State’s political map if it fails to win the Kollam seat

Atomised in its stronghold and still reeling under the embarrassment of the 2015 Assembly elections, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is not just fighting a vital electoral battle in Kollam. Apart from retaining its speck of a representation in Parliament, it is all about getting rid of the spectre -- the party turning into a political dinosaur. Once a strong presence in the State, the RSP will be wiped off the State’s political map if it fails to win the Kollam seat in the present Lok Sabha elections.

The constituency has recorded a shift from stable voting patterns and staid loyalties over the years, the party’s shrinking base and internal dissent leaving the party in a shambles.

Routed in 2015

In the 2015 local body elections and the Assembly elections that followed, the Left Democratic Front made inroads into traditional RSP pockets. The RSP lost its bastions, Kunnathur and Chavara, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF winning all the seats in the district in the Assembly polls.

While Kovoor Kunjumon, a dissident who formed RSP (Leninist), emerged victorious at Kunnathur, former Minister and RSP central committee member Shibu Baby John had to face a humiliating defeat at Chavara, that too from former RSP leader and recent CPI(M) entrant Vijayan Pillai. The RSP has no representation in the Assembly at present, something that has not happened in over four decades.

The RSP sprang from the Kerala Socialist Party (KSP) in the late 40s with a prominent Marxist group, led by N.Sreekantan Nair, Baby John, T.K. Divakaran, and K.Balakrishnan, leaving the KSP and forming a unit of the RSP, which had already emerged as a political outfit in West Bengal.

Base in Kollam

The party had its trade union base in Kollam and neighbouring districts and shot to prominence after the attempt on the life of C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer by K.C.S. Mani, a party worker.

The party marked its presence in the Assembly as a front partner of the LDF in 1967 and earned a ministerial berth.

The defeat of party titan N.Sreekantan Nair in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls in Kollam led to a split in the party, with Baby John forming a faction that later became a major ally of both the fronts in various elections.

After the death of Sreekantan Nair, his faction was led by Kadavoor Sivadasan, who later joined the Congress and was made a Minister. Later, A.V. Thamarakshan and Babu Divakaran formed two splinter groups and Shibu Baby John emerged as a leader eventually.

N.K. Premachandran, another prominent party figure and long-time LDF ally, severed his ties with the front and joined the United Democratic Front just before the 2104 Lok Sabha polls.

Of late, the party unit in Kerala has seen a clash of ideologies and affiliations, creating disarray in its long-standing political order.

Party general secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan had recently criticised the Congress for its failure to take the “right position” in the Sabarimala issue, insisting his party is against all forms of gender discrimination. But his stance was not endorsed by Mr. Premachandran, UDF candidate in Kollam.

While Kollam is perhaps the only constituency in India where the RSP is fighting the CPI(M), in West Bengal the scenario is different. The Bengal RSP has always been in the forefront opposing any kind of alliance with the Congress, disturbing the Left leadership’s most recent political equations.

Contesting against the Congress in seats where consensus was formed and vocal in its disapproval over the Left-Congress pact, the RSP in West Bengal is unwilling to budge whereas in Kerala the party is being trolled as the Revolutionary Sangh Parivar.

At risk of being irrelevant in Kerala, the RSP’s future is dependent on the unpredictable winds of the Kollam constituency. If it is the end of the road for the party or otherwise is something only time can prove.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 6:01:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rsp-in-a-fight-to-stay-afloat-in-state-politics/article26900133.ece

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