Why P Jayarjan was shunted out while CPM district apparatchiks contesting LS polls retain posts now

P Jayarajan . File Photo: Manorama

The CPM’s move to field three of its top district functionaries in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls clearly indicates a major shift in the party’s line of thinking vis-a-vis the 2019 general elections.

In 2019, the CPM fielded its then Kannur District Secretary P Jayarajan, as its candidate in Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency. In the first district committee meeting after the decision was taken to field Jayarajan, he was removed from the post of district secretary and M V Jayarajan was appointed in his place.

In the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the CPM is fielding three district secretaries—V Joy (Thiruvananthapuram),  M V Jayarajan (Kannur) and M V Balakrishnan (Kasaragod).                                                                   

But this time the party’s approach is different. It is fielding them by retaining their party secretary post. The party has decided to give temporary charge of these district secretaries to another functionary to carry out party activities till the polls.

So what has prompted a shift in CPM's stance in five years? Why is the CPM fielding party district secretaries without striping them of their secretary posts? What was the basis of the CPM’s approach to P Jayarajan’s candidature when it took away his district secretary post?

Jayarajan’s case
After winning the 2006 state assembly elections, Jayarajan steered clear of parliamentary polls and became the party's Kannur district secretary in 2011. Jayarajan did nurse an ambition to contest Lok Sabha polls in 2019, though he wanted to contest from his home district of Kannur, where he was sure he could emerge victorious.

He also counted on the fillip he would get while contesting the LS polls during his stint as the district secretary. But the party had other plans and fielded him in Vadakara, which also has assembly constituencies falling in Kozhikode district. And the district secretary’s post was also taken away after that.

M V Jayarajan, who was then the private secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had quit that post to take over the mantle of CPM Kannur district secretary. Before that, when P Jayarajan was in jail in the Shukoor case,  M V Jayarajan had functioned as the acting secretary when Jayarayan took medical leave and also when he was not allowed to enter Kannur during the Kathiroor Manoj case. Jayarajan’s backers in the party then thought such an arrangement would be in force only till the Lok Sabha polls were over. But that was not the case.

M V Jayarajan. File Photo: Manorama

The CPM leadership considered this as an opportunity to rid Jayarajan of his party post for supposedly working to enhance his reputation. The CPM leadership also thought that the cases against Jayarajan would be a major irritant for the party in future.

Exit Jayarajan, enter P Sasi
Another important development also took place in the district committee meeting in which M V Jayarajan took over from P Jayarajan. P Sasi made a comeback to the district committee after eight years following the sexual assault charges against him which cost his party secretary’s post. At that time, P Jayarajan was in the rival camp of P Sasi within the party.

Another district secretary who contested and lost the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 was the CPM’s then Kottayam district secretary V N Vasavan. But the party’s approach to Vasavan’s candidature was completely different from the treatment meted out to Jayarajan. When Vasavan became the Kottayam LS candidate, A V Russel was given only the temporary charge of the district secretary. After he lost the polls, Vasavan got back his post. In two years, Vasavan became a minister and was elevated to the CPM state secretariat.

Norms flouted?
The CPM district secretaries usually relinquish the post when they are given new posts or additional responsibilities. If the post is being relinquished after the tenure comes to an end, either other responsibilities will be given or the party will accommodate the person in the state secretariat. But in Jayarajan’s case, he lost the district secretary’s post after losing the Vadakara Lok Sabha polls.

Jayarajan, who was helming the most efficient district committee of the CPM across the country, was neither given additional responsibilities nor accommodated in the state secretariat. After the second Pinarayi government took charge, he was made Khadi Board vice chairman, a pot which the CPM had earlier bestowed on Shobhana George who quit Congress. The move to treat a leader of the stature of P Jayarajan in such a way drew flak within the party, but Jayarajan took up the post without stirring any controversy.

V Joy’s candidature
V Joy became the CPM Thiruvananthapuram district secretary only in 2023. He took over that post as well as got an entry to the CPM state committee simultaneously during his stint as an MLA. M V Balakrishnan and MV Jayarajan are in their second stints as party district secretaries, taking over the posts in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The CPM’s stance now is that since they have not been in the secretary’s post for a long period, they might as well continue in the post.

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