Saji Cheriyan was sleeping even after the sun broke through his bedroom curtains in Thengumtharayil. The previous night had been too long. There was an endless stream of comrades and such. His phone, which kept ringing until midnight, started ringing again early the next morning. As a particular call said “Unknown number”, Saji’s wife Christina came running into his room and shook him. Half awake, Saji mumbled something in a voice that had become gruff with the incessant conversations of the night before.
“Comrade Saji, I am Namboodiripad,” said a voice with that slight lisp, from the other side. It was a voice Saji vaguely knew but it wasn’t any of the Namboodiripads he knew. Realizing that Saji couldn’t recognize him, the voice again said, “Saji, I’m EMS.” Saji was fully awake by then. But he was sure a good impersonator was playing a prank and he was too tired to answer. “Did you just wake up? Shall I call a bit later, comrade?” the unmistakable voice asked again. Saji lost his voice for a few seconds. Then he managed to mutter in complete disbelief, “Oh, comrade ! How is it possible?” The voice answered with a strange serenity: “Forget all that, comrade. I called to tell you something important”. Although he barely recovered from the disbelief, Saji couldn’t disobey the Acharyan even though everything seemed so surreal.
EMS: Comrade, why did you make those silly comments?
Saji: Comrade, I was misquoted. It is the State and not the Constitution that I questioned.
EMS: No Saji, we get these Malayalam channels here too. We all watched it together. AKG, Achutha Menon, Nayanar and many other comrades from Bengal too. Even Babasaheb and Panditji were also watching from a distance as it was about the Constitution. I had the misfortune to explain to them what was happening. These channels could be horrible most of the time. But your words were clear on them. I immediately called Sitaram and asked for your resignation without delay. I reminded him that only a few months ago he spoke at the Party Congress in Kannur about the need for the left to address the current challenges facing the workers, the secular democratic republic of India and its Constitution.
Saji: Comrade, maybe I was misunderstood because of my Onattukara dialect…you know, those Kuntam, Kodachakram, etc.
EMS: No comrade. I know this dialect well, Saji. Haven’t you heard of comrades Sankaranarayanan Thampi, KC George, PT Punnoose, MN or TV? They were all near you and were my comrades from ancient times. Even I speak in my local dialect, Eranadan style. But how can anyone use the words you used about the constitution?
Saji: But as Marxists, shouldn’t we even view the constitution with a critical eye?
EMS: Of course Saji. But why such big words that only destroy its legitimacy at a time when the constitution is flouted by the BJP? Don’t you know that it is to the constitution that we owe the limited freedoms and rights that we still enjoy? Did you not utter the same words as Hindu activists like Golwalkar and Savarkar who called the constitution a British creature? Interestingly, Congress leaders who swear by the constitution do not recall that their own predecessor, K Hanumanthaiah, also lamented that he only heard the sound of an English band in the constitution and not the music of veena or sitar.
Saji: I never knew. But then, how do you criticize it, comrade?
EMS: I hate quoting myself. But should I read the RK Kale lecture I gave in 1968 at Poona’s Gokhale Institute? They immediately published it in book form. I think it is necessary to read it to you also because no member of the party has yet explained in detail our party’s position on the subject. And unfortunately, those who claim to be ideologues have come up with lame and embarrassing excuses to justify your stupidity.
Saji: Did you lecture on the subject, Comrade EM? But weren’t you the chief minister at the time?
EMS: Yes, Saji, maybe that’s why they called me. In fact, I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to explain our position because even Ambedkar had said that we Communists condemned the constitution.
Saji: I’m dying to hear what you said, dear comrade. I can’t forget your speeches that I listened to since my school days. I had just joined SFI when you came to Chengannur to speak at a public meeting just after the state of emergency was lifted.
SME: Very well. I was also impressed from here when I saw Ramachandran Nair and you capture Chengannur from the right, although it was initially won by my dear comrades Sankaranarayanan Thampi and later by PG Purushothaman Pillai. Anyway, here it is. I am reading. “We are proud of our Republican Constitution. We regard its adoption by the Constituent Assembly as a momentous event in the history of our country. This event ended decades of foreign domination as well as several centuries of conservative and casted socio-cultural organization; he inscribed on our banner the inspiring slogans of political freedom, parliamentary democracy, the end of all forms of social inequality and the guarantee of progress in all directions.
Saji: Oh, nobody told me about it until now.
EMS: It is also published in Malayalam, comrade.
Saji: But then comrade, isn’t it fair that the constitution didn’t accept the right to strike as a fundamental right?
EMS: Comrade, who said it was a perfect constitution? Do you know that Ambedkar himself said that the constitution was neither infallible nor final? He even said it was just the opinions of one particular generation that should not be binding on the next, quoting Jefferson. Especially Marxists like us who don’t believe in constitutionalism should keep pointing them out. But when you mess it up so badly, all other rights, including those of the working class granted by the constitution, go out the window. Do you want to hear what I said in this lecture about the contribution of the constitution to the working class?
EMS: Sad, these things are not taught in the party anymore. I don’t know how many courses I’ve taken on this subject in my life. Anyway, here’s what I said; We consider the elaboration of the Constitution as a historic milestone in the sense that it gave workers and their political representatives new opportunities to organize and perfect their weapons of struggle for a new socialist system. Their victories in not only reducing the strength of Congress across the country, but also in forming non-Congressional governments at times in a few states are a guarantee that the defense of the parliamentary system is in the interest workers. people.
Saji: I understand comrade. But put up with me comrade, so you have nothing critical to say?
EMS: No, dear Saji. But not in the way you said. The bulk of the lecture contains my critique of the constitution along with 21 suggestions on how to improve it for the radical transformation of our society, as promised in the constitution itself. Would you please read it all? Please read my entire lecture. It’s only 20 pages. Or is reading too dead in the party forever? And have you heard of Comrade Somnath Lahiri? He was the supreme leader of our party and also one of the drafters of the constitution. Read about it too.
EMS: Before I hang up, let me congratulate you on one thing. Your nasty remarks reminded us once again of the importance of the constitution. As Churchill said, it turned out to be a good crisis that was not totally wasted! Me and Panditji laughed a lot watching on the channels Congress and BJP leaders and those great lawyers crying so hoarse for the constitution. Just four years ago, they denied the Supreme Court’s verdict on Sabarimala upholding constitutional morality on religious rituals.
Saji: I want to read your book right away, dear comrade.
EMS: Can I give another advice, Saji? Don’t keep justifying yourself. Try saying sorry. It will only do you good.
Saji: The opposition is harassing me to quit as an MP too
EMS: Which I leave to your conscience.
Saji then got up from the bed and went out to take his TVS Scooty to fetch a copy of EMS’ book. Precisely at this moment, Saji awoke from his sleep. It was then almost noon.