By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Cassandras have ended up with egg on their faces. The prophets of doom have been embarrassed beyond mention. Belying all dire predictions, Kanam Rajendran has been re-elected unanimously as the Communist Party of India (CPI)’s Kerala state secretary for a third term.
The most positive upshot of the State conference of the CPI has been a resonant message of unity. The anti-Left press, rubbing its hands as it were in malicious glee, has been administered a stinging snub by the party leaders and cadres who, once again, laid accent on left unity in the State. The positive outcome of the conference will impart a new energy and strength to the battle against the forces of communalism led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the negative politics of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
The conference also witnessed a generational shift with the exit of party veterans K E Ismail and C. Divakaran from the State Council. Ismail will, however, continue to be a member of the National Council until the 24th party congress from October 14 to 18.. Senior assistant secretary K Prakash Babu, has retained his state council membership. CPI leader from Idukki E S Bijimol, who had voiced her reservation on some issues in a Facebook post, has not made it to the council.
The new 101-member Council sports a younger image. As many as 33 members were dropped from the existing 96-member council. Among those who have not made it to the council are Central Control Commission chairman Pannian Ravindran and Central Secretariat member Binoy Viswam. There are 13 women among the 38 new faces in the Council. The anti-left press had forecast a fierce controversy over the party’s decision to make mandatory the age cap of 75 years for leaders in the State council and executive members. The prediction was that the decision was meant to oust senior leaders Ismail and Divakaran. But that has been proved to be nothing but mere conjecture as it was Ismail who proposed Kanam’s name as the state secretary.
As for Divakaran, the stalwart himself said he would abide by the party decision on the age cap. It may be mentioned that the CPI National Council had taken a decision to bring in the upper age limit to ensure greater representation of youngsters in leadership positions. Since it was the decision of the National Council, it could not be interpreted as being against the party constitution. The party’s mass base has expanded with the membership having gone up from a mere 34,600 in 1971 to 1,77,600.The branch committees have gone up from 8,500 to over 11,000. Of course, there is scope for further improvement. It was after the Malappuram conference that the party saw a surge in membership.
In his acceptance, speech, Kanam dismissed rumours of factionalism in the party. That is the product of the not so fertile imagination of the left-hostile media. “The party has no group. Communists stand as one. Comrades have the right to voice their opinion in their respective party forums. It is not an era of slavery. However, the party’s decision-making is always consensual and concordant in the tradition of democratic centralism,” affirmed Kanam.
An important feature of the conference was that despite the party’s reservations and apprehensions, criticism of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), especially the Home department under the control of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has been softened in the party reports presented to the state conference. The major criticism was against the Kerala Government’s use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against student leaders Thaha and Allen for possessing Maoist brochures besides the killing of Maoists at Attappady in November 2010. In both these incidents, the CPI said the LDF Government had deviated from the known stand of the left parties. The state government’s resort to the draconian law, the CPI felt, would considerably weaken the Left parties’ stand obnoxious pieces of legislation such as UAPA. The Conference also called for frequent consultations within the LDF and evolving a consensus in the functioning of the LDF Government.
The political report voiced the CPI’s reservations on the SilverLine project. The CPI has all along been of the firm view that such mega projects should be implemented only after taking the people into confidence. The report also referred to the ongoing protest against the Vizhinjam port project. The conference stressed the importance of drawing up coastal conservation plans.
Significantly, Kanam has become the fourth leader from the party to secure three terms as state secretary. The other leaders have enjoyed three terms are NE Balaram, P K Vasudevan Nair and Veliyam Bhargavan. Strengthening the party at the grassroots level is the major challenging Kanam is facing. True, the party has recorded growth. But as a party leader said, much more remains to be done. For instance, the CPI has party units in all panchayats and majority of the wards. The immediate task is to ensure the party’s presence in all wards. No less important is the need to keep the CPI’s identity intact in the LDF. (IPA Service)