Analysis | Kuzhalnadan transforms CPM into a party full of questions

Mathew Kuzhalnadan. Photo: Manorama

There are innumerable ways to buy time. The tactic that CPM employs in Kerala to buy time is called Mathew Kuzhalnadan.

Whenever the party is faced with tough questions, it asks the Congress's Muvattupuzha MLA some counter questions. For instance, Kuzhalnadan had relentlessly challenged the CPM to disclose the accounts of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter Veena and her firm Exalogic Solutions.

The reply was not a bold readiness but a counter question at Kuzhalnadan. It came from CPM Central Committee member A K Balan. Balan wanted to know whether Kuzhalnadan would put an end to his public career, or at least apologise, if it is proved that Veena Vijayan and her company had paid GST every month.

This challenge was amplified by the CPM spokespersons during channel debates; they too were unwilling to take any questions until they heard from Kuzhalnadan.

It was too risky a question, yet Kuzhalnadan accepted the challenge. He said he would apologise if it was proved that Veena had paid her GST.

Nothing more was heard from Balan again on the issue.

On August 24, before Pinarayi Vijayan made his first public speech of the Puthuppally by-election, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan had hurled a set of seven questions at the chief minister.

These questions were related to seven major allegations that were raised against the CPM and the LDF government in the past few years. It was Sastheesan's way of brushing the memory of the public, especially Puthuppally residents who were going to the polls.

The bribery charges against Veena Vijayan was only the latest. Others were about the grant of the AI camera project to a relative of the chief minister, the cost escalation of K-FON project, the purchase of PPE kits and gloves at higher rates during COVID, the winding up of the vigilance probe against M Sivasankar in the Life Mission project, and the role of a former CPM MLA in scuttling a POCSO case. The last question was about the mismanagement of prices of essential goods during Onam.

Pinarayi Vijayan chose to ignore them during his Puthuppally speech.

When the same set of questions was put to the CPM state secretary M V Govindan on August 25, he responded differently. He did not walk away like before nor did he say that he would not reply. Instead, he hurled a set of seven counter questions.

Interestingly, it was not at Satheesan but at Kuzhalnadan. It did not matter that except for Veena's 'pay-for-no-work' charge, none of the other questions posed by Satheesan was raised by Kuzhalnadan.

"Let Kuzhalnadan first answer these questions. Then I will respond to their questions even if they are not backed by any substance," Govindan told reporters on Friday.

Most of these were not even put as questions but as statements of facts.

One, massive tax evasion related to the purchase of land at Chinnakkanal. Two, operating a resort in violation of the Land Assignment Act. Three, the lie that the building in his Chinnakanal land was a private guest house even though Kuzhalnadan was running it as a resort.

Four, illegal reclamation of land to construct his house. Five, reveal the truth behind the figures that exposed amassment of wealth beyond Kuzhalnadan's known sources of income. Five, the impropriety of conducting a business while functioning as a lawyer.

The last, however, was posed as a question. "Was there FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violation in the foreign investment of Rs 9 crore that he has declared in his Election Commission affidavit?"

These questions have now become yet another excuse to postpone answers for some very crucial questions related to nepotism and institutionalised corruption.

Even before Govindan asked, Kuzhalnadan had responded to at least one of the posers, the one related to the reclamation of land for his house. Given Kuzhalnadan's eagerness to take the fight to the CPM camp, he can be expected to respond to all of them soon.

Once these come, it has to be seen whether Govindan, like Balan, will go under the radar.

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