Kodiyeri replaces VS as Pinarayi’s foe in CPM

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi-Daily Pioneer published on September 16, 2009

One of the reasons why CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat had stood with Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, much to the dislike of several senior leaders, for demoting Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan from the Politburo to the central committee in July last was perhaps the necessity of establishing peace in the party.

But Karat is now finding it difficult to intervene in the new and more intense group war in the Kerala unit, where Home Minister and junior PB member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has replaced Achuthanandan as the enemy of the official leadership.

The situation in the Kerala CPI(M) presently is no different from the time when Pinarayi and Achuthanandan used to wash their dirty linen in the public, much to the embarrassment of the central leadership. “The warfare is already on though indirectly, and it is reminding us of the incidents in 2007, which had led to the suspension of both the leaders from the PB. The only thing is that the people have not understood the new standoff in its entirety,” said a senior leader of the party.

The alleged lapses committed by the Kerala Police under Kodiyeri in the probe into the murder of young industrialist Paul Muthoot on August 21 fanned the embers of the feud in the party. “The secretary held two Press conferences with mysterious intentions to indirectly point out problems in the investigation, while the Home Minister gave indirect answers to the secretary. The Home Minister’s son was more direct when he said his father became a target after becoming a PB member,” the leader said.

Group-neutral CPI(M) leaders opine that the present faction war the Kerala unit is, to a great extent, the creation of Karat himself. The basis of the current standoff in the party is the appointment of Kodiyeri, a firm advocate of Pinarayi’s own neo-liberal policies, as a member of the Politburo, disregarding the opposition from the men led by Pinarayi Vijayan, it is said. The appointment of Kodiyeri in the Politburo at the 19th party congress in April 2008 had surprised even the CPI(M) activists in Kerala.

“The intention of the general secretary then must have been to bring up an alternative power centre within the neo-liberal camp. The aim was to keep a check on the power of Pinarayi Vijayan. Karat must have thought that the best way of ensuring this was to have the alternative power centre in Pinarayi’s own Kannur lobby. While one part of this scheme succeeded, the ultimate goal has been defeated. Instead of peace, we have more trouble,” said the source.

Observers say that Pinarayi is on an all-out bid to prevent Kodiyeri raising a challenge to his nominee, most probably Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac, central committee member, when the leadership’s plan to remove Achuthanandan as Chief Minister is implemented before the local bodies election in September 2010.

Pinarayi knows that Kodiyeri, with his membership in the Politburo, some influence over certain leaders of the Kannur lobby and his better track record when compared to that of the secretary, would be the central leadership’s normal choice to replace Achuthanandan. Leaders like EP Jayarajan from the Kannur lobby have already expressed their displeasure at Pinarayi’s soft corner for Isaac.

Observers also say that Pinarayi’s recent demand to the Government to impose controls on the media could not have been accidental. They say Kodiyeri had, in an unguarded moment, taken this bait and spoken of legally controlling journalists, inviting widespread protests, in the face of which he recanted his statement. “From that point on, the war became real,” said a party source.

According to him, Karat is either yet to realize the dimensions of the trouble brewing within the party or he is simply pretending that it is no big issue. “He too had blamed the media for isolating the party in a speech the other day. It means that he is either unwilling to look at the reality or unable to intervene,” said the source.

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