All eyes are on P Jayarajan even as political Kerala has been discussing an alleged nexus between the CPM and contract criminal (quotation) gangs. Several people are firing salvos, overtly and covertly, at the CPM’s Kannur strongman over the reported nexus.
There is also an argument that the party has corrected Jayarajan by insisting on changing the title of a Facebook page to ‘Red Army’ from the previous ‘PJ Army.’
Jayarajan has come under CPM scrutiny over allegations of promoting personality worship. Still, P Jayarajan is an emotion for the CPM cadre in Kannur. Even as the party has been facing several accusations, many are curious to hear Jayarajan’s take on the issues.
Jayarajan opens up in a freewheeling conversation with Malayala Manorama’s Special Correspondent Sujith Nair in ‘Crossfire’.
As the CPM district secretary, you were an active personality in Kannur’s political sphere. There are talks that you have been keeping a low profile and distance from CPM leadership after the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in Vadakara. What is your comment?
It is a false campaign, deliberately launched to create a divide among party comrades. Campaigns spreading canards against CPM are not new to the party. It was always there. The right-wing media had earlier alleged that EMS and AKG were part of a particular group. Targeting me is the latest example of such campaigns.
It is true that I lost the polls from Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency. The district committee had decided that I should step down from the post of district secretary once I became the candidate. I went by the party's decision. I am looking after my responsibilities as a member of the CPM state committee and district secretariat. The question of ‘low profile’, as you have mentioned, doesn’t arise. I am executing whatever responsibilities the party is assigning me.
Several people expected you to contest the Assembly election. A campaign was taken out on social media saying you would contest, and voices of protest were raised when you were denied a seat. Did you personally expect an opportunity to contest the polls?
The party's state committee decides the criterion for selecting a candidate in the Assembly polls. I am a party worker who follows the yardsticks the party has decided. The state committee decided that those who had contested the Lok Sabha polls need not be in the race to the Assembly. I still believe the yardstick is correct. Hence, I have no complaints about not making me a candidate in the Assembly polls.
The party unit concerned decides the responsibilities of a party worker. The party decides whether a worker should be in the Assembly or indulge in organizational work. I work as per the party decision.
While you were denied an Assembly seat citing the yardstick, M B Rajesh and V N Vasavan, who had also contested the Lok Sabha polls, were made candidates. Doesn’t that mean a different yardstick was applied in your case?
The party's state committee has relaxed the norm in their case. Once the party examines the circumstances that required granting a relaxation and decides accordingly, all are bound to go by that decision.
K Sudhakaran of Kannur has become the KPCC president. You have closely monitored Sudhakaran as a political rival. How do you estimate him?
K Sudhakaran became the KPCC president by creating a wrong impression among the Congress workers. His first claim after becoming the KPCC president was that he had 50 years’ working tradition with Congress. It’s a lie. He was outside the Congress for 18 years.
I vividly remember his speech in which he termed Indira Gandhi an Indian Yakshi (a female vampire). I was the district secretary of SFI during the Emergency. A students’ committee was then active to protect democracy. Sudhakaran was the leader of NSO, which was also part of the committee. He had attended party meetings with us, even at Azikodan Mandiram, as part of the students’ collective.
He has been repeatedly claiming that he had always fought against the CPM. I reminded him of sitting with us in the CPM’s party office. Sudhakaran had made several speeches against the Congress, and had cooperated with the CPM. He is spreading lies to create a wrong impression among his party followers.
He has told several Congress leaders earlier that he had downed Pinarayi Vijayan with a single kick at Brennen College at Thalassery. We, too, heard about his bragging from several people, who had joined the CPM from the Congress. If asked to define him in a sentence, it would be ‘Badai Raman’ (roughly, prevaricator).
Sudhakaran has the image of a leader who had stood up to the CPM in Kannur. There is a belief that Sudhakaran becoming the Congress chief has rejuvenated that party?
Congress is crumbling at the national level. It was routed in the Kerala Assembly polls. Against this backdrop, the politics that Sudhakaran presents is fraught with danger. He has declared CPM as the arch-rival to cement his existing ties with the RSS and BJP. Those within the Congress, who want to uphold Nehruvian values, will not accept Sudhakaran’s line of politics. His autocratic way of functioning and criminal behaviour will lead Congress to more crises.
You have protested against the media over the reports on the Ramanattukara gold smuggling case. It was later revealed that CPM had acted against those involved in the case having party links. Didn’t the party units fail in identifying such cadre in advance and acting against them?
Blaming the parents of one who had gone awry is barbaric. Right-wing political organizations and media have been committing the same act against the CPM. If those involved in gold smuggling had CPM links, why should the party be blamed? They had been part of the CPM under some circumstances. We can speak about their activities when they were part of the party. Several names that are being mentioned now had severed ties with the party years ago. The CPM took a stringent stand against their wrongdoings. Media, like you, is mum about the fact that the CPM doesn’t tolerate such people.
On the other hand, BJP state president has been summoned for questioning in connection with the hawala case. Metro Manorama, in a 2013 article titled, “Khaddaritta Pramughante Gundaraj (Gundaraj of khaddar-clad prominent person),” revealed the brutal hooliganism of those with links to Congress and RSS. Neither the Congress, nor RSS denounced that quotation gang. But the CPM stood up against them. CPM had already expelled those who are named in the case.
These characters were active on cyber space and election front on behalf of the CPM, even after the party had acted against them?
These people may attend huge CPM rallies and meetings. They being a part of the rallies or meetings do not mean that they have become the spokespersons of the party. Lakhs of people are with CPM. Can we stop all of them from indulging in illegal activities? The party had, much earlier, examined the social media campaign by these people. It was decided that caution should be exercised against such people masquerading as party spokespersons on social media. It was, however, not publically announced.
Shouldn’t the party inform the members of the public about such characters? The recent developments prove that reporting within the party alone does not put an end to such issues?
Didn’t the Kannur district secretary identify such persons after receiving concrete information? The party took a stand to name and denounce each of them. It was not based on any media reports. The party said it openly since it felt it should be told to the public. The campaign based on an audio clip that one-third of the quotation amount goes to the party is totally baseless.
These people were active in ‘PJ Army’ which recently changed its name to ‘Red Army’. With ‘PJ Army’ being a collective of those worshipping you, do you think the criticisms, both overt and covert, were targeted at P Jayarajan?
Never, because I had revealed my stand on ‘PJ Army’ when it unleashed an attack on CPM by using my name. They have no links with me. I had also announced that I would initiate legal action if they continued acting against the party. Manorama headlined the report, “PJ Armiye thalli Jayarajan (Jayarajan denounces PJ Army)”. Still, they did not change. After initiating legal action, I noticed that they have changed the name PJ Army. It has been noticed that they praise individuals while belittling others, and even classifying leaders. I have revealed my stand on social media that “this is not praising me, but attacking the party.”
It seems you denounced ‘PJ Army’ during the Assembly election. Don’t you think you should have done it much earlier? Didn’t you have the responsibility to avoid the allegation that you are fostering a cyber army?
Several people are involved in social media. There are several groups representing the party also. I responded when the social media activities reached such a stage. It was not during the election. I first responded during the Anthoor issue.
As the district secretary, you welcomed even RSS workers to the CPM fold to grow the party and strengthen its foundation. Were you forced to have a rethink after those who had joined the party and later came to be known as Ambadi Mukku comrades, became a headache?
Such initiatives were made by the party and not me alone. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, then the party state secretary, inaugurated the meeting in which BJP former district president O K Vasu and others joined the party. The party had always welcomed those joining CPM by denouncing their former party’s policies and accepting CPM’s policies. We are still welcoming such people and will continue to do so. I do not subscribe to the view that all at Ambadi Mukku have become a liability for the party. Several of them are still continuing as party comrades and were active during the election campaign.
What precautions should the party adopt to prevent more Arjun Ayankis and Akash Thillenkerys from sullying the CPM’s image in future?
The party makes decisions based on the specific information it receives. The above-mentioned Azhikode resident was a village committee member of the DYFI. He was expelled once DYFI felt he had gone astray. I was the district president when the Thillenkery resident was expelled from the party after he became an accused in the Shuhaib murder case. The CPM is one party that makes decisions whenever such issues crop up. It should be remembered that neither Congress nor BJP could adopt such a stand.
Even while taking at face value the CPM claim that the party would not protect such elements, don’t they have the blessings and support of some leaders?
There are certain people who misuse the name of the party and its leaders. There are even reports of people cheating others by posing as someone close to the ministers. If any such thing happens, the police will take appropriate action.
The Initiative for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care (IRPC), headed by you, has grabbed the attention of the entire State. There are allegations that quotation gangs have been using IRPC’s voluntary works as a cover for their activities?
I don’t think any quotation gang had used IRPC’s activities as a cover. As I have already said, if any CPM member indulges in illegal activities, the party will take necessary action against them. The same is applicable to IRPC also. I haven’t noticed any illegal activity being carried out under the cover of IRPC.
Though KPCC president K Sudhakaran has said that he doesn’t consider P Jayarajan to be corrupt, he demanded a probe into the source of IRPC’s income?
The demand reflects his anti-Marxist politics. The CPM Kannur district committee formed IRPC based on the party state committee meeting decision that the organization should get involved in palliative care. The organization has a tax exemption. Its functioning is transparent, and the organization submits its audit reports on time.
The organization cannot accept any amount above Rs 10,000 in cash. It can be done only through the bank. Due to the activities of IRPC, donating to the organization has now become a part of Kannur’s culture. Responses like that of Sudhakaran reveal that the organization’s popularity has been bothering the anti-Marxists. They are trying to tarnish IRPC’s image since they could not initiate such an activity.
Has the CPM given you a clean chit in the allegation that you had been encouraging personality worship? Reports said the party had given you a clean chit?
Several reports are being published about internal discussions within the CPM. It’s all meant to create a wrong impression about the CPM. I cannot reveal the internal discussions to the media.
It was the CPM state committee that had put such blame on you. It has been reported also. You were read out the chargesheet on promoting personality worship. Could you share the thoughts and feelings you had when the chargesheet was read out to you at the state committee?
I can only repeat what I have said earlier. I cannot share with you what all were discussed within the party. But I am saying here whatever that has to be told to the public. No one in the party is above criticism, even if it is the national general secretary.
Accepting criticisms is the best means to become free from mistakes. It’s something beyond the wildest dreams of Congress or BJP. Criticisms over mistakes committed by individuals will be raised in the party in future also. It is to modernize and correct the party. There were several criticisms against me. I need not tell the media whether I had been given clean chits in all the cases.
Party apart, does the individual, P Jayarajan, encourage personality worship?
The party’s policy is that there should not be personality worship. The policy is applicable to me too.
The question often heard is, did you falter in following the party line?
As said earlier, there were reports of certain discussions that had taken place within the party, and that I had no role in the personality worship row. I am not responding to such reports.
You can be termed as the living martyr of Kannur. Will CPM utilize your services more efficiently in the coming days?
(Laughs) As said earlier, I am a member of the CPM state committee and district secretariat. The foremost duty of a party worker is to carry out the responsibilities the party assigns you. I have been performing my responsibilities without fail.