The apparatchiks in the Kerala State Committee of the CPI(M) may be familiar with Karl Marx’s expansion of Hegel’s view that History repeats itself. In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte , Marx propounds, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

But given recent events unfolding in Kerala and their apparent determination to repeat history as farce, the comrades seem to have missed Marx’s point entirely. The spate of what Jyoti Basu once described as “Historical” blunders continues unabated when it comes to crucial decisions in the Left party. They bypassed the iconic KR Gowri (Gowriamma as the best woman CM Kerala never had was affectionately called) in favour of the rather tepid EK Nayanar in 1987, they blocked Jyoti Basu from becoming Prime Minister in 1996, they refused to join the UPA in 2004 and now, in a shocking dismissal of all public appeals, they have refused to retain the internationally acclaimed Health Minister KK Shailaja, in the newly sworn in State Cabinet.

The CPM’s explanation for excluding a woman whose adept handling of not just the Covid-19 pandemic but the Nipah virus outbreak and post-floods disease spread has been hailed even by their arch rivals is that it wants to promote a “generational change”. That a 75-year-old Chief Minister is heralding this ostensible change is perhaps less politically damaging than the naked nepotism in the form of PA Mohammad Riyaz, the CM’s son-in-law who has been given pride of place in the State Cabinet.

These decisions should douse any residual hopes in the Left to present an alternative model of governance. The CPM has once again repeated history, quite farcically at that.