“All yoga exercises can be noticed in dog’s body movement.” was the insight provided by CPIM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury regarding the first International Yoga Day. The comment, which drew flak from all quarters on twitter that day, also included him explaining that “attention is diverted from basic issues confronting people”. Needless to say, Mr. Yechury is a man known for his arrogance, which punches quite above his and his party’s weight. Notwithstanding the General Secretary’s apparent scorn at Yoga, elsewhere in Kerala, his fellow comrades have already laid the foundation for a “Secular Yoga”, in the party bastion of Kannur district.
The revolutionary party, however, has turned a new leaf on the second International Yoga Day, with elaborate events planned under the aegis of Indian Martial Arts and Yoga Study Centre, an organisation controlled by the CPIM. It has neatly swept under the carpet the snide made by their senior comrade. Unlike the case of their General Secretary, the cadre in Kerala are more watchful at the turn of events and the shift in public mood. The political narrative is changing in the behest of a strong, nationalist rule and it would only be sensible to humbly row their boat along the stronger current, although with a ‘secular’ sail.
It would not be wrong to say that the CPIM was literally driven into celebrating the Yoga Day. Notwithstanding, the CPIM’s brand of Yoga, without “Aum” (Om) chanting and ‘suryanamaskar’ was held in the presence of Kerala CM and party supremo Pinarayi Vijayan.
But then, unlike Modi, Mr. Vijayan himself stayed away from attempting the Asanas! This year’s Yoga Day also witnessed Kerala State’s Health Minister K.K. Shylaja expressing her protest at the chanting of Sanskrit slokas at the start of the official Yoga Day program in the State capital. Needless to say, Shylaja played the Yechury part this time, courting flak from the public that could have been well avoided.
All these events, wherein the most prominent communist movement in the nation finds itself launching a hesitant, yet desperate attempt at regaining the lost political space, which earlier used to be occupied under the garb of ‘secularism’, points in general to the state of affairs governing the country’s loose anti-incumbent opposition today. It has become a duty of the opposition to usurp communal sentiments among the Indian public. The strange irony is that communal lines are drawn in the name of secularism. A close look at the politics surrounding the Yoga Day reveals this.
A novel initiative by the NDA Govt. that promotes a traditional, and globally accepted health practice has been juxtaposed with a ‘Secular’ version of the same by the communists in Kerala. Sadly enough, in States like Kerala where the population has been subjected to a hand-in-hand alternative rule by the Congress and CPIM, the political narrative of “secularism within quotes” has achieved poisonous roots among the public polity. Right wing political thought has, for long been a pejorative term. Nevertheless, on a happy note, there are strong winds of change. A restless youth and an aspirational middle class that is tired of the injustice meted out by the welfare State and its ‘secular’ policies are cautiously warming up to the NDA and its aggressive nationalist and responsible approach. The historic entry of BJP into the Kerala Assembly this year points to that effect.
Indeed, the Yoga Day stunt by the revolutionary party might be dwarfed by their own Janmashtami celebrations last year. Already, Asianet News in Kerala reports that “the CPIM had also launched a ‘volunteer sena’ on the line of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Kannur that groomed select youths.”. The distance that Marxists will deviate from their original ideals to survive this political storm will be watched by the public in Kerala. Eventually, the secular sail is bound to get torn one day.