Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has lost a catalyst that kept the party and governance on the same track with the passing away of its former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Kodiyeri's pleasant but persistent interventions unfailingly scrambled to the CPM's defence whenever the party was under fire within and outside the Left Democratic Front.
Kodiyeri's unflinching loyalty to the party is well known.
Party was perched on a high pedestal, towering over even the most important events in his personal life.
His wedding coincided with the day he was elected Kannur district secretary of DYFI.
Soon after tying the knot, he left for the DYFI conference, only to return the next day. This loyalty towards the organisation had put him above petty intra-party factionalism.
Even during the height of Pinarayi Vijayan-VS Achuthanandan factional feuds, his steadfast allegiance to the party gave him an aura of a non-partisan leader.
Kodiyeri had yet another trait that never hesitated to fire stinging satirical comments. Launching a broadside against the police for the delay in arresting the culprit in the April 2016 rape and murder of a Dalit law student at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam, Kodiyeri's sharp satirical trait minced no words when he asked if the investigation was based on sketches, why the probe was not handed over to artist Namboothiri. The comment did singe the police and the then government.
The 68-year-old leader's demise could rightly be termed as the end of an era. His death has left a vacuum. CPM has lost a jovial leader who made deft political moves, and an able administrator.
CPM's loss is neither small nor could be expressed in words. The party had used Kodiyeri's mediating skills and analytical power to tide over disputes. His pleasant approach, in-depth analysis of issues, political diplomacy and the ability to make decisions acceptable to all came in handy whenever the CPM and CPI were at loggerheads. He stepped in whenever Pinarayi Vijayan, then the State secretary, locked horns with his CPI counterpart Veliyam Bhargavan or VS Achuthanandan, and defused the situation.
Kodiyeri was made the Home minister after the party had stripped VS of the Home portfolio following the latter's standoff with Pinarayi. The Pinarayi-VS feud did not affect Kodiyeri, who maintained a cordial relationship with both leaders.
As the State secretary, he ran the party machinery with elan and kept the party cadre dynamic and vibrant. He stood by his "work in the field, and wages at the fence" statement made at Payyannur, even after it became a controversy when rivals interpreted it as a call for political vendetta.
"If someone attacks our party workers, the attacker should not return the same way as he had come. We should defend ourselves. I did not urge our workers to attack others. Will we allow a fly to sting us?" The Kodiyerism in response to the controversy went down well with the party workers.
Kodiyeri was one of the best Home ministers Kerala has seen. He initiated the modernisation of the force, and the Student Cadet Police project was rolled out during his tenure. He ensured that a communal incident at Beemapally in Thiruvananthapuram did not spiral out of control.
Though the police had to open fire, the communal flares were contained and prevented from spreading to other parts.
Kodiyeri's demise comes close on the heels of criticism against the ministers in the second Pinarayi government.
The cabinet comprises fresh faces, barring the chief minister, as part of the CPM policy to provide opportunities to the new generation.
The CPM is of the view that the performance of several ministers during their first year in office was below par.
Even as Pinarayi Vijayan has been acting as a strict school headmaster while leading the cabinet, Kodiyeri was the decisive cohesive factor that linked the party and government. The link, now, has been severed. The CPM may find several leaders to replace the party secretary, but none of them will have the quintessential Kodiyerism.