Pinarayi Vijayan & Co,. An MNC in the making

published on May 3, 2007

After Red strike, mill land in CPM kitty

RAJEEV PI

Source URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/29508.html

KANNUR, APRIL 27 : The latest achievement of the Rs 4,000-crore CPI(M) Inc in Kerala could be the envy of many corporate honchos.

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–>Labour disputes and a protracted strike, which the party itself led, had got a large private textile company of 600-plus workers here to down shutters some nine years ago. Then, last year, the CPI(M) bid for and bought the same Thiruveppathy Mill’s prime seaside land in the heart of the town for a measly Rs 6.5 crore, no one daring to quote higher and invite the party’s wrath. This was after the BIFR had ordered liquidation of this company, after it lay in cobwebs for years, through the Indian Bank.

The party did more. Early this week, the CPI(M) got its government to give it a blanket exemption from paying even a paise of the Rs 94-lakh registration fee and stamp duty that it was to remit for this deal. This exemption was pushed through, with the Cabinet deciding it was for a “public purpose”, as Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told The Indian Express today.

The public purpose is to set up a memorial for Late CPI(M) leader E K Nayanar and a library, “besides other best uses that the party will decide on later,” according to KP Sahadevan, state secretary of the CITU, CPI(M)’s trade union arm.

The party, which is busy constructing a huge water theme park and a “world class hypermarket” among other corporate ventures in this district, had bought this company’s land in the name of the E K Nayanar Memorial Trust. CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan chairs the Trust, which has top comrades as members.

That apart, the party, which has been the property’s owner for eight months now, hasn’t paid a paise to the jobless workers of the stricken company agitating all these years for their legal dues—not even to the kin of the 11 among them who have committed suicide so far, unable to find another livelihood. This is while the CITU itself is in the forefront of the company workers’ agitation.

“The land is worth at least twice, going by market rates, but the CPI(M) easily scared away competitors from bidding. But still, workers thought the party would get its own government to order payment of at least their legal dues of about Rs 2.5 crore, from the Rs 6.5 crore that it had paid Indian bank for the property. It didn’t, and instead the government ordered the bank, through the district collector, to take out a big chunk of that amount and pay sales tax and other government dues of the company,” said INTUC State Secretary K Surendran.

The embarrassed CITU, however, claims it is not going to allow the removal of the company’s rusty equipment and infrastructure or let the party do anything on the land it has bought, until the workers got their dues. “We have been trying to get the Cabinet to write off all the power bills, penalties and tax arrears of the company so that the money the CPI(M) paid could go to settling workers’ dues. But there is no precedent of doing that for any wound up private company,” said CITU State Chief KP Sahadevan.

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