By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala CPI(M)’s decision to undertake a massive rectification campaign has energized the party like never before.
The drive, undertaken after a nine-year gap, is aimed at curbing the rise in bourgeois tendencies among the party leaders and cadres, especially after the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) retained power in the State.
CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan told media that “starting from the state secretary, all factions, including the state secretariat and state committee to the lowest unit of branch members will be subjected to an elaborate process of self-criticism.” Incidentally, the CPI(M) undertook th4e first rectification campaign in 1996, followed by another one in 2009. In view of severe factionalism, the state leadership organized a party plenum as part of the rectification drive.
The Kerala unit, which is the most powerful CPI(M) unit in the country, decided to take the initiative to ensure that the party in the state does not repeat the mistakes of West Bengal and Tripura. The green signal for the campaign was given by the State Committee which met at a two-day session last week. The self-correction exercise has been undertaken based on the discussions held on the document “Contemporary politics and party’s immediate responsibilities in the organizational sector.”
An immediate manifestation of the campaign has been the levelling by senior party leader P. Jayarajan, of graft charges against LDF convener E P Jayarajan. The charge is that EP illegally acquired property for an Ayurveda resort in Kannur. At the state committee P Jayarajan reportedly referred to financial irregularities in connection with the resort and its links with EP’s family. Reports have it that State secretary Govindan has asked Jayarajan to give the allegation in writing. In case he files a complaint, then the state secretariat will have to set up an enquiry commission to look into it. Since EP is a central committee member, clearance from the party’s top forum will be needed.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that P Jayarajan has levelled allegations against EP. For instance, in 2019, when Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was the state secretary, P Jayarajan had raised serious charges of illegal acquisition of property along with other irregularities against EP Jayarajan.
Surprisingly, the CPI(M) Politburo, which met in New Delhi on 26 and 27 this month, did not discuss the EP episode, it is learnt. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had a meeting with CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury prior to the PB meet. The central leadership seems to have decided to skip a discussion following the assertion by MV Govindan that the entire EP episode was the figment of media imagination.
Another fallout of the rectification drive is the decision of CPI(M) central leadership to extend the rectification campaign at the national level. The Central Committee meeting in Kolkata is set to adopt the campaign officially.
A surprising development in this connection has been the sharp division in the India Union Muslim League (IUML), a major partner of the Congress in the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) over the issue. IUML strongman P K Kunhalikutty had initially said that the allegations against EP are an internal matter of the CPI(M). But, he executed an about-turn later by calling for an investigation into the charges. The allegations related to financial dealings should be considered seriously. An investigation that would bring out the truth should be conducted, he added. The Kunhalikutty volte face happened after the second-rung leadership in IUML strongly objected to his stance. The opposition came from Kunhalikutty detractors in the party, Tirur MLA KPA Majeed, state secretary K M Shaji and Youth League state general secretary P K Feroze.
As expected, the opposition in the state has come up with the demand for an investigation into the allegations against EP. Mere party-level probe won’t do. A full-fledged investigation is a must to clear the air. That is the combined opposition demand. It remains to be seen how the state CPI(M) leadership handles the issue. The party must not suspend the rectification drive. It may initially create unease in the party. But, in the long term, the drive would benefit the party in a big way for showing the way to other parties on tackling charges of corruption and nepotism. It is testing time for the state leadership. (IPA Service)