By any political account, Pinarayi Vijayan is a powerful Prime Minister. The CPM leader has a few internal rivals in the faction-torn party in Kerala, and has led the Liberal Democracy Party to consecutive victories in the General Assembly elections – a first in the state since 1977. However, he was gone by his colleagues in Cabinet, his assistants and the party. Police, Vijayan has a strange weakness: the black colour.
Since July 2020, when the gold smuggling case first came to light, several senior officials of Kerala politics and government have been under scrutiny. The protests have often accompanied the twists and turns of the case – it has seen accusations against senior IAS officers and the CM family. As recently as Sunday, black flags were hailed in Thrissur and Malappuram counties, despite tight patrols. State congressmen also released black balloons. Left Front leaders see these protests as an attempt to embarrass the prime minister and government, and ask why protesters insist on only one color to highlight their grievances.
Isn’t the opposition’s job to try to embarrass the government because of the alleged corruption? Wouldn’t the CPM have done the same in opposition? Given that the CPM still claims to be a revolutionary organization and often takes lofty positions on free speech and protest towards the center, seeing it in red on black flags is a long way off. The government officially denied this, but the police forced people in public meetings to take off their masks and black clothes, and government and party members saw in the protests a “ploy to harm the cabinet.” It is clear that the “Revolution” party is subject to the same insecurities – and perhaps even more – as those against whom it is rightly hunting itself.