Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India (CPI) has decided to be guarded in its support to the ambitious rail project being piloted by the Kerala Government.
The criticisms at the CPI's Kerala State Council meeting against the SilverLine rail project and the strident opposition shown to the project by the party feeder organisations are behind the rethink.
From its initial stand of giving blind support to the project, the CPI has veered round to the view that there should be modifications in the existing project to allay the apprehensions raised by various quarters. While taking into account the criticism aired at the two-day State Council meeting that ended the other day, the CPI State leadership has decided to stand with people's aspirations on the issue without opposing the project.
The CPI would convey its changed policy soon to the CPM and the state government.
Earlier, CPI's frontal organisations such as Yuva Sahithi, All-India Youth Federation (AIYF), All-India Students' Federation (AISF) and All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) had expressed reservations about the semi high-speed rail corridor.
In the CPI State council, most of the members spoke against the SilverLine project. The same was the mood at the meetings of the feeder organisations. This is the reason why the party has decided not to blindly support the project. But it won't oppose the project either. There is no bar on the feeder organisations to speak out against the project. But instructions have been given by the party that no protest programmes should be organised against the project since the project was part of the manifesto of the ruling political alliance, the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The party considers that only after environmental impact study, one should get an idea whether the project is detrimental to the interests of ecology of the State or not. Since the compensation package is attractive, the party does not consider that there would be too much hue and cry over land acquisition.
The party knows well that if the environmental and land-acquisition issues are addressed, the project will move forward successfully. The CPI leadership is also of the view that it is imperative for the government to study whether the project is financially profitable for the government or not.
The party leaders' outbursts at the State council meeting against the project was reflective of the criticisms that came up at the party's block and district forums. At the party conferences beginning in February, more fireworks can be expected from the party rank and file over the party's stand on the SilverLine project.
'Binoy Viswam's absence not intentional'
CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran ruled out the media reports that CPI MP Binoy Viswam had kept away deliberately from the meeting which the Rajya Sabha MPs of the LDF had with the Union Railway Minister in Delhi with regard to the SilverLine project.
Kanam said that Binoy could not attend the meeting since he had a prior appointment with his doctor.
The clarification was given by Kanam after Binoy's absence at the meeting assumed special attention, especially due to the reports that Binoy, an environmentalist in his own right, is reportedly upset with the SilverLine project.
Meanwhile, the CPM MPs, who met the Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, said later that the latter had informed them that the SilverLine project would be accorded sanction once the Railways received the Kerala Government's clarification on certain technical issues.
They gave a memorandum to the Union Minister, seeking immediate clearance for the project. The leader of CPM in Rajya Sabha Elamaram Karim and V Sivadasan MP hoped that the Centre would soon give approval for the project.
Meanwhile, RSP leader N K Premachandran, MP, alleged that it was only CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran who supported the CPM and the Chief Minister on the SilverLine project.
The differences in the CPI over the issue became clearer after Binoy Viswam kept away from the LDF MP's meeting with the Union Minister. The AISF, AIYF and You Kala Sahithi are all opposed to the project, he added.
Kannur VC row
In the wake of the furore over the reappointment of Kannur University vice chancellor, the CPI has realised that the conduct of Higher Education Minister R Bindu was not above board.
The party has realised that the recommendation letter given by her to Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan calling for the reappointment of the VC has put the LDF on the back foot as it tries to deflect the Governor's attack on political interference in university affairs.
The CPI had disapproved the letter sent by the Minister to the Governor, taking into account the legal implications involved in the case. The lack of experience of the minister and the oversight of her office had worsened the matter. Moreover, the CPI's youth and students' organisations do not approve the style of functioning of the Minister.
Bindu is a CPM member.
CPI party conferences
The Party Council has decided to depute State leaders for briefing the party workers about membership drive and norms for party conferences. Each State Council member, including party State secretary, should attend 10 branch meetings.
This time, the State leaders will be attending party's branch committee meetings so as to take stock of the opinion of people at the lower rung about the welfare and development measures adopted by the LDF Government.