C Divakaran attacks CPI state leadership, says party’s identity has diminished

C Divakaran. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: C Divakaran, one of the tallest leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kerala, has been away from the limelight in recent days. However, in an interview with Manorama, Divakaran said nobody can remove him from the party citing his age. “No unit of the CPI has decided to fix 75 years as the maximum age to be an office-bearer of the party committees,” he added.

Regarding the chances of an election to the post of secretary at the upcoming state meet beginning in Thiruvananthapuram on September 30, Divakaran said there was nothing wrong with it. “I am not afraid of elections,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Divakaran alleged that the functioning of the present state leadership had diminished the image of the party. “We have to decide whether the CPI needs to play only a limited role in the Left Democratic Front (LDF),” he said.

Regarding the amendment to the Lokayukta law, Divakaran felt that it was unnecessary. He also said that an increase in party membership was not a factor to decide the leadership.

Excerpts from the interview:

There are reports that an election will be held to decide on the party state secretary for the first time. How do you see the situation?

There’s nothing in holding elections for the leadership post. Generally, everyone welcomes a leadership change. In fact, a revolutionary movement progresses only through change. In order to bring about change in society, it should first be implemented in organisations.

Moreover, the current party state secretary has completed two terms. At the district level, it has been decided to keep away from leadership those who completed three terms. So, we should support the suggestion to change the state leaders after two terms.

When asked whether he would continue in the post, state secretary Kanam Rajendran replied that he was eligible for three terms. Kanam also pointed out that the membership increased significantly during his terms. Then, why is there a demand for a leadership change?

My reply is that a doctor cannot prescribe the medicine that a patient wants!

Do you mean to say that the failures of the current leadership have led to the demands for change?

The CPI works as a team. Nobody has any monopoly over its functioning. A rise in membership is not a criterion when choosing a leader. The party’s identity is based on its fundamental policies and the stand it takes on various issues. Does anybody check the number of party members? In fact, apart from membership, several other factors are also important.

C Divakaran. Photo: Manorama

Is anybody engaged in wrecking the identity of the party?

The identity of the party isn’t damaged, but it has diminished. Take the Lokayukta amendment, which was totally unnecessary. According to the amendment, the Legislature and the chief minister are higher than the judiciary. When a complaint is raised against a minister, it would be examined by the chief minister and that against the chief minister would be checked by the Legislature, says the amendment. The Lokayukta law was introduced by CPI minister E Chandrasekharan Nair when E K Nayanar was the chief minister. It was strong legislation against corruption.

Many comrades are dejected over the surrender of the CPI in some issues. Take the SilverLine project. Those who announced that the project would be implemented at all costs later changed their stand and CPI had no explanation to offer even after so many hues and cries were raised. Similar is the case of the Vizhinjam stir. As the second-biggest party on the ruling front, the CPI could have intervened in the issue and tried to find a solution.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan; CPM secretary MV Govindan

Presently, whenever an issue crops up, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan passes the buck to CPM state secretary M V Govindan, who passes it back to Pinarayi. CPI cannot agree with such an arrangement.

Are you saying that the CPI has surrendered to the CPM?

The CPI doesn’t need to surrender before the CPM, which is a big party governing the state. As a ruling partner, CPI has to cooperate with CPM whenever possible. But, it should adopt a strong attitude when such cooperation is not possible. Incidentally, CPM has never asked CPI not to be firm. It is for the people to decide whether CPI has diluted its stand.

Would there be a contest for the post of state secretary?

Nobody is afraid of an election. The party does not consider an election a nightmare. Let it take place.

Disputes in the CPI began over fixing the upper age limit for office-bearers as 75 years. What are your comments?

No unanimous decision has been taken over the upper limit of 75 years. It is only a guideline and not a decision of any party unit. I will support the age limit of 75 years if a decision is taken, but not a guideline. A guideline is only advice like asking people to lead rightful lives. Such a decision is not valid under the party’s constitution.

Why didn’t you raise objections when the party discussed the matter?

Nobody had any opposition during the discussion as it was only a suggestion, which may or may not be implemented. But, when an attempt is made to enforce such a decision, objections would be raised.

Is such a move on age limit an attempt to exclude senior leaders?

I have no problems with the move. No one can keep me away from the party. I can always serve the people and work under the CPI, for which there is no age limit. Even if somebody says that there is indeed a maximum age for these activities, I will not approve it. I will continue party work. People don’t check whether you are an office-bearer or not. They don’t ask if I am a member of the national executive of the party. So, I can always work among people.

Kanam Rajendran. Photo: Manorama

If the age limit of 75 years is demanded considering health issues, let the party conduct everyone’s medical examination. Then we will learn who all are really fit.

Wouldn’t the age limit bring more youths to the leadership?

In various party bodies, 20 per cent of the posts are reserved for the youth. But do you see youngsters queuing up to join the party?

Is there factionalism in CPI?

I don’t think so. Some leaders claim to have a particular number of office-bearers under them. But, the reality is that nobody is with anybody. What really exists is the Communist Party. 

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