By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The return of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as the secretary of the Kerala CPI(M) is the best thing that has happened to the party, which is plagued by a plethora of problems.
Kodiyeri is back at the CPI(M)’s helm a year after he stepped down on health grounds. The State secretariat of the CPI(M), which met recently, gave the green signal for Kodiyeri’s return. Reports have it that he will, in all probability, get a third term as secretary when the State conference is held in Ernakulam next March. What accelerated Kodiyeri’s return is the need felt by the party for a full-time secretary in view of the fact that the party’s district conferences are set to begin.
It, undoubtedly, is a booster shot for the Kerala CPI(M), which is badly in need of an experienced captain to steer it through troubled times. And Kodiyeri is the man of the moment. His wealth of experience and temperament will go a long way in tackling the host of challenges ahead for the party. A judicious blend of toughness and flexibility – his USP – will enable Kodiyeri to tackle the onerous tasks he will be called upon to do.
The amiable leader’s return – he has a good rapport with leaders of opposition parties too- will also help to undo the slight damage caused by the slew of controversies that marked the tenure of A Vijayaraghavan as acting secretary when Kodiyeri ‘went on leave’. Decks were cleared for Kodiyeri’s comeback also with the release on bail of his son, Bineesh from jail a few days ago. He has regained his confidence with the marked improvement in his health.
The two major challenges to which Kodiyeri will have to bestow his full attention are the 14 district conferences of the party which will begin soon. The conferences are likely to witness some acrimony in view of the elections in the conferences. The situation arising out of the disciplinary action against several senior leaders including G. Sudhakaran, a strongman from Alappuzha district, will need special attention. Kodiyeri will have to ensure that factionalism in the party does not go beyond control, and that there is no recurrence of the kind of bitterness that marked the time when VS Achuthanandan was in power.
Particular attention will have to be paid to districts like Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts which saw keen competition between the official and rebel panels. Such was the ferocity of the competition that Kongad MLA K. Santhakumari had to taste defeat in the Kozhalmannam area committee! Likewise, Kozhikode district also witnessed a keen tussle for supremacy.
Another issue which will engage the full attention of Kodiyeri is the filing of chargesheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against 24 people, including CPI(M) Kasaragod district committee member and former MLA K V Kunhiraman in the 2019 Peria murder case. As many as 10 men, who were associated with the CPI(M) were allegedly involved in the murder of Youth Congress workers Kripesh and SaratLal on February 17, 2019. They are among those named in the chargesheet. Besides Kunhiraman, Echladukkulam branch secretary Rajesh P alias Rajuis another CPI(M) leader charged in the case. Of course, Kunhiraman and others have denied any role in the murder. They see a conspiracy to discredit them and the party by filing false cases against them. The party faces a protracted legal battle in the case, and Kodiyeri has to make sure that the party emerges unscathed from the controversy.
As for the outgoing acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan, reports have it that he could be accommodated in the party’s highest decision-making body, Politburo. Vijayaraghavan may replace S Ramachandran Pillai, who is about to retire. It may be mentioned that the CPI(M) had recently set 75 as the age cap for leaders in the central committee and politburo. Ramachandran Pillai, who is 83, had offered to step down during the 2018 party congress itself.
Now that Kodiyeri is back at the CPI(M)’s helm, there will be greater sync between the party and the government. Kodiyeri has an excellent rapport with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which will stand him in good stead. (IPA Service)