Shailaja row spurs online slug fest as CPM cyber warriors, ‘Porali Shaji’ spar

KK Shylaja

Two sections of CPM sympathisers are engaged in a full-blown war on cyber space with one group unleashing a blitzkrieg on Porali Shaji, a Facebook page that has been a prominent, but unofficial voice of the party on social media.

The latest development on social media was a fallout of CPM’s decision to drop former Health Minister K K Shailaja from the second Pinarayi Vijayan-led cabinet. The immediate provocation, however, was Porali Shaji explicitly naming and firing a volley of criticism at DYFI state secretary A A Rahim.

Rahim came under criticism after he said in a television debate that a secretive and mysterious gang was behind the page, Porali Shaji. Porali—or warrior—retorted, saying it neither required Rahim’s “good certificate” nor a pay from the party.

The retort sparked a flurry of activity by pro-CPM groups and individuals on social media.

Several users, including a page, ‘We Love CPM’, called on others to dislike the Porali Shaji page.

Following the call, the page, which had about 7.5 lakh followers, lost around 10,000 within the first three hours. Porali now has around 7.3 lakh followers.

Porali Shaji had registered unhappiness immediately after the CPM had dropped Shailaja by posting a single word, “koppu,” a Malayalam slang roughly translated as “dammit.”

“The teacher’s role in keeping this little Kerala afloat even as the pandemic suffocated the world is memorable. The mortality rate would have increased if the health sector had failed. Perhaps, even the continuity in power, too, would have been lost,” Porali later posted.

Hashtag campaign sparks row

The post was followed by another one, which said the CPM decision had pained the mothers in Kerala. Later, the page launched a hashtag campaign, #bringbackkkshailajateacher, prompting a section of cyber comrades—as active pro-CPM pages and users are called—to disown Porali.

After the party's decision to exclude Shailaja, another page, PJ Army, too, demanded her inclusion in the cabinet. The page, reportedly, was launched by those supporting P Jayarajan, former secretary of CPM’s Kannur district committee.

The page registered its discontent clarifying that it was not with party rebels, but with CPM. Sensing trouble, PJ Army soon beat a hasty retreat to toe the party line.

With cyber comrades hitting ‘dislike’ in hordes, Porali Shaji went into ‘unpublish’ mode for more than three hours last night. The page returned live around midnight, but the deluge of ‘dislikes’ continued.

Even as ‘dislikes’ continued to overwhelm the page, Porali bid ‘Good Bye’. Even it could not prevent the rapid flow of comments, for and against Porali, while many others offered 'condolences'.

Porali’s post, “Good bye comrades, coming soon” had tagged Bineesh Kodiyeri, currently jailed in Karnataka in a money laundering case. Bineesh is CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son.

The tag was later removed.

The page, however, had pinned a video by P V Anvar, MLA, saluting Porali Shaji for exposing and tearing apart media that has been creating fake news against the Kerala government and the chief minister.

A A Rahim lashed out at Porali Shaji during the television debate, when the anchor pointed out that even the pro-CPM Facebook page was opposed to CPM dropping K K Shailaja from the cabinet.

Rahim argued that neither the CPM nor the DYFI was in any way linked to the unidentified group called Porali Shaji. The DYFI leader even adopted a stand condemning the mention of Porali’s name in the debate. Enraged, Porali unleashed a vitriolic attack on him.


Blowing hot and cold

Though Porali Shaji has been relentlessly justifying the CPM, his criticisms, at times, have created a headache to the party.

For instance, Porali demanded the CPM to act against P K Shyamala, chairperson of Anthoor Municipality, after a non-resident Malayali industrialist had committed suicide.

He had allegedly taken the extreme step after the municipality refused approval for a convention centre he had been constructing.

Porali’s demand had then created a headache for the CPM. Surprised by the post, several party workers and social media followers asked in the comments section if the page had been hacked. Porali replied in the negative.

The party was forced into defensive following the demand for action by Porali, who earned the sobriquet of ‘Antham Commie’ (blind communist) for his relentless and blind justification of the CPM actions. He had then posted a photograph of Shyamala along with the demand.

Porali had protested against the party when CPM removed P Jayarajan from the post of its Kannur district committee secretary, and later denied him a seat in the Assembly polls.

Porali also came out congratulating Veena George, the new health minister, after acerbic cyber comrades taunted him. He wished her to perform better than Shailaja Teacher.  

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