Thiruvananthapuram, 24 April(HS): Way back in 1967 to 1969, when the Left Democratic Front was heading the Kerala Government, Berlin, the capital city of East Germany(the then German Democratic Republic) and Bucharest, the capital of Romania were the favourite destinations of the CPI(M) and CPI leaders.
The then Chief Minister EMS Namboodirippadu used to fly away to Berlin even for minor ailments. C Achyutha Menon of the CPI, who succeeded Namboodirippadu after the collapse of the Government headed by the latter chose Bucharest as his favourite medical destination. Both the leaders have waxed eloquence on the Communist system of medical care in their memoirs while lambasting the imperialist and capitalist system in the USA.
Interestingly, there are no records of any Communist leaders from Kerala visiting the Soviet Union, China or Cuba for medical treatment. The Soviet union is gone long back and one is yet to hear encomiums on the health care system in Russia or any of the Republics that constituted the union of Soviet Socialist Republic.
“Medical graduates who return to Kerala after their studies in China, Ukraine or Russia have to appear for a screening test before they are allowed to practice in the State. The Kerala Government is charging Rs 1,20,000 from each medical graduate who passes out from Chinese or former Communist countries,” said S Jayashankar, Kerala High Court lawyer and commentator.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister Veena George miss no opportunities to wax eloquence about the health care system in Kerala which they describe as that of global standards. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chief Minister always set apart ten to 15 minutes of his press interaction to eulogise the health care system in the State.
But that has not come in the way of Vijayan to fly away to the US for a fortnight-long hospitalization and treatment. He is getting admitted to Mayo Clinic in the US from Monday and will be there for three weeks. This is Vijayan’s third trip to the USA for treatment.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the CPI(M) State Secretary is also flying away to the USA for treatment shortly. This is Balakrishnan’s third trip to the US and he is under treatment for a terminal illness. While the party secretary has been open about his ailment, the chief minister has not disclosed the kind of disease tormenting him. Since the trip is to the USA, it has been widely assumed that the ailment is not of a simple nature.
The five days long Party Congress of the CPI(M) has taken a heavy toll on both the leaders who were not in the best of health. But Vijayan has ensured that the party system is under his tight control and there would not be dissidence of any kind from anybody. The CPI(M) has undergone a major change over the years and has started accepting the USA as a major force in the world. People who had been to the USA say that before getting the visa endorsement, the travellers have to give an undertaking to the US consulate/embassy that they have no ties with the Communist parties anywhere in the world. Chances are that Vijayan and Balakrishnan too have given such undertakings to the US authorities. After all, life is more precious than longevity for the comrades. Lal Salam.