As soon as Sitaram Yechury was selected as the CPM general secretary at the party congress in Visakhapatnam, he declared that his priority was to strengthen the organization. He even convened a party plenum in Kolkata the next year to address the rot in the party and energize the cadres.
Ironically, Koklata also witnessed the humbling of Yechury. The CPM rejected the political line proposed by him. Yechury’s proposal only led to a vertical split in the top decision making bodies of the party. The rift in the central committee and the politburo about the party’s political-strategic line was reflected in all the state units. All the state committees stood divided on the issue. Kerala could be an exemption - the state was united against Yechury!
Just as the party was recovering from the Kolkata tremors, the Kerala unit and its secretary landed in soup. If the general secretary is in an organizational crisis, the Kerala secretary is in a personal crisis. This is the condition of the party ahead of the crucial state conference and the party congress.
As many as 175 delegates from Kerala are scheduled to attend the party congress in Hyderabad. Bengal will send as many delegates even though the party unit is only a shadow of its former self.
Yet the Kerala unit will have the upper hand in any decision making. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan sent out a strong message at the central committee meeting in Kolkata before they left for Thiruvananthapuram.
The Kerala unit was dead against any understanding with the Congress. The largest party unit had its way, even at the expense of eroding the credibility of the party general secretary. The CPM has virtually admitted that Yechury was no longer its spokesman.
Yechury cannot seek solace from history. There is a vast difference between his snubbing and the rejection of P Sundarayya. The preset crisis even led to a situation in which national media was prompted to report that the CPM had pro-BJP and anti-BJP factions. A picture was created that some of the CPM leaders were in favor of allowing Narendra Modi to continue in power at the Center.
The perpetrators of the rift were not able to justify their positions even to their comrades. Strategic line has to get the opponent off guarded. That is not something to be planned and declared. Anything could happen during poll time.
The BJP, on its part, did not seem very interested in the commotion in Kolkata. The Kerala CPM was adamant on its decision to show Yechury his place. The state leadership had no interest in elevating him as the general secretary. They would be happy to see him leave after the Hyderabad party congress.
The happiness in the Kerala unit was shortlived though. Kodiyeri found himself in an embarrassing controversy when his businessman-son was accused of fraud. Not many leaders think that the timing of the revelations were accidental.
Kodiyeri has put up a brave front, saying that his son would do the explaining. Strangely, Kodiyeri’s situation calls to mind the CPM leaders’ reaction when BJP president Amit Shah had to cut short his road show in Kannur and fly back to Delhi to defend his son. Jai Shah was accused of manipulating the central government to walk home with a bonanza. The CPM leaders did not hold back when they attacked the Shahs. They could expect the same ferocity from the BJP now.
Family had always been a weak spot for Kodiyeri though he had showed enough dexterity to squeeze himself free of every controversy. This time, complaints against his family had gone up to the national leadership. To his chagrin, Yechury is still the party boss.
Closer home, Kodiyeri has to face comrades in Kannur, led by P Jayarajan, who was cut to size by the state committee for encouraging a personality cult. The district conventions in Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram are expected to be stormy in light of the allegations against Binoy Kodiyeri.
The state leadership had send a 31-point list for rectification of mistakes. The members could remind leaders to set their houses in order first.