Vijayan Expands his Domination in Kerala State CPI(M)

The polite but firm reminder from Yechury that the comrades of Kerala should think beyond Kerala fell on deaf ears! The CPI(M), Yechury averred, is not a Kerala-specific party. The comrades from the state should evolve a national perspective. Factionalism in the state CPI(M) is bound to hurt the party. Here’s a report, for Different Truths.

Factionalism in the state CPI(M) has become a thing of the past. And the party would benefit from it. Thus thundered CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at the recently-concluded party’s state conference.

But the question uppermost in the minds of not only CPI(M) cadres but also the people outside the party is: Will the so-called end of factionalism prove beneficial for the CPI(M)? The answer to the question is a resounding no.

If anything, the systematic and orchestrated ending of factionalism could prove a self-defeating exercise, a self-goal of sorts. Such a conclusion is inevitable if the manner in which factionalism has been sought to be ended is anything to go by. A closer look at the exercise will illustrate the point.

An analysis of the newly-constituted state committee shows that it is packed with the loyalists and yes men of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Even the few remaining supporters of CPI(M) patriarch V S Achuthanandan – already a dwindling species –  have been shown the door. For instance, two staunch VS aides – Pirappancode Murali and C K Sadasivan have been eased out on grounds of ill-health and advanced age. If ill-health is the criterion for ousting committee members, then how come three Pinarayi acolytes whose health is anything but good have been included in the state committee? Obviously, what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander! 

Naturally, factionalism will come to an end when members of the rival faction are thrown out lock stock and barrel. The exercise itself is a form of factionalism for the simple reason that you are boosting a particular faction at the cost of its principal rival. Needless to say, the political liquidation of all VS aides cannot but create great resentment among his supporters.

The organisational report presented at the conference reveals a highly disturbing trend: the alienation of a substantial section of youth from the party. The arrogant refusal to accommodate even a few supporters of VS in the State Committee will alienate them further resulting in their eventual exit from the party. And that is a luxury a party which wants to wage a united battle against the BJP-RSS combine cannot afford.  In other words, it is nothing but a self-goal. Instead of maximising the anti-BJP votes such ill-thought-out exercises result in ‘minimization’ of even CPI(M) votes’! The wiser course would have been to accommodate, at least to some extent, a few dissenting voices. Their absence would spell the end of constructive self-criticism within the party. 

The CPI(M) state chief also touts the delights of the flowering of inner-party democracy.  But inner-party democracy is observed more in its breach than in its observance. Just one example will illustrate the point. The conference saw trenchant criticism against what party general secretary Yechury’s detractors called his pro-Congress line. Two close Pinarayi aides, Mohammed Rias and A M Shamser, MLA were the ones who excoriated the party general secretary. That was a ‘healthy’ manifestation of inner-party democracy!

Just compare this with the fate that overtook a member from Kasargod district who was sure of being nominated to the state committee. But then he committed the cardinal sin of criticizing the son of CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan whose business activities in Dubai brought a bad name to the party. Needless to say, he paid the penalty by failing to make it to the state committee. Such selective application of the principle of inner-party democracy won’t do the party any good.

The conference also saw the Pinarayi ‘bhakts’ indulging in frenzied beating of the anti-Congressism’ drum. The polite but firm reminder from Yechury that the comrades of Kerala should think beyond Kerala fell on deaf ears! The CPI(M), Yechury averred, is not a Kerala-specific party. The comrades from the state should evolve a national perspective. Congress may be the principal rival in the state. But at the national level, the party must ensure the support of all democratic, secular forces to oust the BJP-RSS combination from power. Will the comrades from Kerala heed this sage advice? Highly unlikely if their past performance is any guide.

Naturally, the million dollar question is: Will the Yechury line find more buyers from Kerala at the forthcoming party congress?  It is difficult to hazard a guess.  As of now, only VS have openly come out in support of Yechury. It is a fact that there a few more leaders who agree with VS. But the big question is whether they will come out in the open. That possibility cannot be ruled out altogether. Party leaders from the southern districts of the state are unhappy about the violent proclivities of leaders from Kannur. They are of the view that the murder of Youth Congress worker Shuhaib and the arrest of two CPI(M) workers in connection with the murder have proved highly damaging for the party. Will their seething indignation find an outlet in the form of support to the Yechury line at the party congress? One thing can be said with certainty: If the CPI(M) loses power in Tripura – exit polls predict that it will –  then the pro-Yechury line chorus would gain greater resonance and traction.

P. Sreekumaran
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet

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