Analysis | With SilverLine salvo at CPM meet, K V Thomas only proved the Cong gag right

Illustration: Manorama

Finally, K V Thomas spoke at a seminar organised by the CPM as part of its ongoing Party Congress in Kannur on Saturday. Thomas made his trip to Kannur after creating a flutter. The Congress had barred the veteran, along with its other leaders, from attending the event citing the opposition's differences of opinion with the CPM, especially on the SilverLine project.

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee was derided by many for its gag order, ignoring the larger political picture in the country. It was accused of being petty, undemocratic and supportive of the BJP government at the Centre by those in the Left spectrum.

Nevertheless, Thomas, whose ouster from the party looks imminent and entry into the Left fold a probability, has just proven his party's attempt to thwart his Kannur trip was right.

The former Union minister attended the CPM event ignoring his party diktat, making lofty claims about being part of a secular coalition to fight the anti-federal policies of the BJP regime. He reiterated he was attending the seminar as a Congressman and was hence voicing his party's position at a national event.

However, finally, when it was time to speak, he sounded like an ardent Pinarayi Vijayan backer -- and an amateur one at it.

With his brazen silence, the 75-year-old professor-turned-politician endorsed the criticism the CPM threw showered at his own party and its leaders. He proved the Congress right from the beginning as he patiently sat through CPM Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan's welcome speech, in which the latter described KPCC president K Sudhakaran as someone even "Congressmen abhor".

“The ban on the Congress leaders from attending such events of national importance is a disaster caused by the appointment of someone even the Congressmen hate as the party's state president,” Jayarajan's contempt of Sudhakaran was not at all concealed.

Neither while hearing it nor while speaking later did Thomas bother to point out the undemocratic overtones in Jayarajan's choice of words.

Instead, as expected, Thomas gave a lecture to his own partymen about how it used to be more democratic in its approach to the Left in the past. He struck the right chord with Kannur when he referred to the respect Pandit Nehru had for Communist stalwart A K Gopalan.

He praised former LDF Chief Minister E K Nayanar's generosity in having his predecessor K Karunakaran inaugurate the Cochin International Airport along with him.

He wanted to cite it as a fine example of Kerala's political bonhomie when it comes to the cause of development. However, he conveniently forgot how the first Pinarayi Vijayan government had sidelined Oommen Chandy at the inauguration of the Kochi Metro even though most of the works on the mega project were done during the Congress leader's tenure as CM. The Karunakaran-Nayanar bonhomie is history in the fast-moving wheel of politics, while Vijayan's Chandy snub happened just five years ago.

In projecting himself as a pro-development politician, Thomas evidently lost the lofty narrative he had set around his attending the event and sounded too partisan.

He hailed Vijayan as one of the best chief ministers of the state. To support his claim, he pointed out the CM's willpower in implementing the GAIL project. Again, he was silent on the CPM's protests against the project, when the Congress tried to complete it.

Then came Thomas' open support to the Pinarayi government's ambitious yet controversial SilverLine project. “I'm being blamed for supporting the K-Rail project. What else should I do,” he asked amid applauds from the crowd of comrades. His argument was that it is wrong to oppose a project just because Pinarayi Vijayan is behind it. Thomas feigned ignorance about the Congress' criticism against the project on the grounds of environmental impact and economic burden, which a wide range of experts support.

These praises were evidently meant for the CPM rank and file on the dais and in the audience.

From his speech, it is evident that Thomas wanted the CPM stage only to proclaim his political plans after being sidelined in his own party ever since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when he was denied a ticket to contest for another term.

He has been sulking for some time and the Congress had paid scant regard to it. The only time the party tried to placate him was when it appointed him a KPCC working president for a brief period ahead of the assembly polls last year.

Now with his Kannur show, the crux of which was political betrayal, he has set the stage for his exit.

In this easily predictable political script, his next role is most likely to be that of a 'victim (of Congress)) for saying the truth'.


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