CPM's internal appointments in Kerala a heartburn to many leaders

The new appointments in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have given rise to several questions. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, elected as the state secretary for the third time, and E P Jayarajan, who replaced A Vijayaraghavan as the convener of the Left Democratic Front, have made both the leaders confident. But, can the same be said about others? Will the party affairs be smooth after the new appointments?

An innocuous video clip Bineesh Kodeyeri, son of the party state secretary, posted on Facebook has grabbed the attention of many CPM watchers. The video depicted party central committee member E P Jayarajan's grandson singing 'Balikudeerangale' at the inaugural of the CPM party congress.

Penned by poet-lyricist Vayalar Ramavarma and composed by G Devarajan, the song has been the communists' favourite revolutionary anthem for more than six decades. Several political pundits and party workers interpreted Bineesh's Facebook post as an indication of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Jayarajan coming closer once again.

Many CPM workers felt that Jayarajan's resignation from the first Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet on charges of nepotism, and his prolonged wait to get a cabinet berth again, had created a rift between the two party strongmen over a few misunderstandings. It has been suspected that Jayarajan's LDF convener post could be an indication of the thawing of relations between the two leaders.

Kodiyeri, Jayarajan
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, EP Jayarajan

Hope and disappointment

A Vijayaraghavan was made the LDF convener in 2018 and the acting state secretary of the party since he was the senior member from Kerala in the Central Committee (CC). The same has been pointed out now while appointing Jayarajan as the convener.

Jayarajan, who was elevated to the CC in the 2005 Delhi party congress, is the senior-most member from Kerala in the central committee after P K Sreemathy. A K Balan, another CC member, could rightfully believe that he was the apt candidate for the job, considering his diplomatic way of handling matters compared to Jayarajan's rash and frequent outbursts.

After shifting to responsibilities pertaining to organisational matters, Balan, too, has been working from the CPM state headquarters, AKG Bhavan, like Jayarajan. The expectation that Balan would be made the chief editor of the party organ, 'Deshabhimani', if not offered the convener post, also did not materialise. He had to be satisfied with the party-assigned charge of the Students' Federation of India (SFI).

Minister M V Govindan and Rajya Sabha member Elamaram Kareem might have had questions playing in their minds when the recent 23rd party congress elected ministers K N Balagopal and P Rajeev to the CC.

The CPM state conference in Kochi had excluded both Govindan and Kareem from the state secretariat saying an individual need not simultaneously be the minister of Rajya Sabha member, secretariat member and central committee member. Balagopal and Rajeev are now holding all the three posts: CC member, secretariat member and ministerial post.

Former minister K K Shailaja, who became a CC member a decade ago at the Kozhikode congress, has not yet become a member of the state secretariat, despite the party including eight new faces  in the secretariat, which has P K Sreemathy as the lone woman member.

KK Shylaja
KK Shailaja

At a news conference on Tuesday, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan made it clear that M A Baby and A Vijayaraghavan will be Delhi-based politburo members. Baby has been spending more time in Kerala after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. It was speculated that Vijayaraghavan would be allowed to shuttle between Kerala and Delhi. Kodiyeri's news conference, however, put an end to such a speculation.

Vijayaraghavan, who had been working from Delhi for about 30 years, returned to Kerala barely four years ago. With his wife R Bindu becoming a minister in the second Pinarayi cabinet, he had an opportunity to be with her in Thiruvananthapuram. He is now set to return to Delhi as instructed by the party.

More to come?

A noteworthy appointment was that of  Puthalath Dineshan as the chief editor 'Deshabhimani,' though he has no journalistic experience -- a first in the party's history. Earlier, P Rajeev was made the chief editor after he had worked as the resident editor.

The party did not have high opinion of Dineshan's functioning in the chief minister's office, though he is an honest leader. This impression of the party has made P Sasi's return to the chief minister's office inevitable. Dineshan's function as the chief editor is yet to be seen.

Even as the party appointed Dineshan, a junior, as the chief editor of Deshabhimani, central committee member T M Thomas Isaac was made the chief of 'Chintha Vaarika,' a magazine promoting the party ideology. Incidentally, the post was held by state committee member C P Narayanan.

M Swaraj was assigned the charge of 'Chitha Publishers,' replacing Vaikom Viswan, who has been inactive due to health issues. While P A Mohammed Riyas and Swaraj were included in the state secretariat, their seniors in DYFI, T V Rajesh and A N Shamseer were left out.

Meanwhile, it has been pointed out in the state committee that some of the appointments could not be justified. The circumstances that may arise out of the new organisational structure and P Jayarajan's criticism of P Sasi's appointment as the chief minister's political secretary, give a feeling that more is yet to come.

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