Once expelled for sexual misconduct, P Sasi returns as chief minister's political secretary

P. Sasi
P Sasi. Screengrab/MMTV

CPM state committee member P Sasi, who was expelled from the party in 2011 for sexual misconduct, has been chosen as the political secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Puthalath Dineshan, who has been serving as the chief minister's political secretary, will now be the editor of Deshabhimani, the CPM mouthpiece. Former finance minister T M Thomas Isaac will be the chief editor of Chintha Weekly.

The decisions were taken at the two-day CPM state secretariat held in Thiruvananthapuram from April 18 and 19. Besides, the secretariat has also decided to opt for CPM central committee member E P Jayarajan to replace A Vijayaraghavan as the LDF convenor. Vijayaraghavan has been inducted into the CPM politburo and will henceforth concentrate his activities in New Delhi.

Sasi's return to a powerful position is demonstrative of Pinarayi Vijayan's absolute authority over the party. This was a post Sasi had held a quarter century before. Between 1996 and 2001, he was the political secretary of Chief Minister E K Nayanar. Then, the grapevine had it that he was the de facto ruler of Kerala.

Closely associated with the official CPM faction led by Pinarayi Vijayan, Sasi was grudgingly expelled by the party in 2011. It was the relentless pressure applied by V S Achuthanandan that forced the official faction's hand. There were multiple complaints of morally indefensible behaviour against Sasi from members within the CPM.

But even after expulsion, Sasi remained highly influential within the CPM. He functioned as the lawyer for CPM workers accused in the murders of T P Chandrasekharan and Kathiroor Manoj.

In 2018, two years after the first Pinarayi government came to power, the police filed a report in Hosdurg First Class Judicial Magistrate Court saying that the charge of sexual assault against Sasi was baseless. The Court, then, dismissed the case without trial.

P Sasi and E P Jayarajan.
P Sasi and E P Jayarajan. Screengrab/MMTV

The allegation of sexual abuse was made by a woman DYFI leader in 2010. Based on her complaint, the party had demoted Sasi from Kannur district secretary to the Peralassery Keezhara branch committee on December 13, 2010. But to the world, the CPM cited "health reasons" as the official cause of his demotion.

However, after V S Achuthanandan took an uncompromising stand, the state committee expelled Sasi from the party in 2011. Earlier, a senior CPM leader closely identified with Achuthanandan, too, had complained of Sasi's predatory behaviour. Sasi had allegedly subjected a close relative of the leader to sexual assault.

In 2018, right after the Hosdurg court dismissed the charges raised by the woman leader, Sasi was welcomed back to the party. He then clawed back to positions of power swiftly. In 2019, he was re-inducted into the Kannur district committee and at the 23rd Party Congress this month, Sasi was included in the CPM state committee. And now, at the CPM state secretariat, he was chosen as the chief minister's political secretary.

On the other hand, the CPM has subtly edged out both the members who levelled charges against Sasi. The woman DYFI leader is now not in the party, and the top CPM leader, who was once an MLA, was pushed down to the branch committee from the state committee.

It is not just personal equations that has led to Sasi's return. He is politically useful, too. A top party source said that he could be the bridge between the CPM and the Muslim League. If not a new open political alliance, it is said that Sasi has enough political clout to engineer at least a silent subterranean deal with the League. It was widely rumoured that it was at Sasi's instance that Nayanar let off P K Kunhalikutty in the ice-cream parlour sex scandal.

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