Kerala CPI conference: Kanam Rajendran is state secretary for third consecutive term

CPI leaders critical of Rajendran's "subservience" to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan failed rally support to oust him.

ByK A Shaji

Published Oct 04, 2022 | 1:44 PMUpdatedOct 04, 2022 | 1:44 PM


The Kerala state conference of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second-largest constituent of the ruling LDF, concluded in Thiruvananthapuram after electing Kanam Rajendran as state secretary for the third consecutive time.

As Rajendran held an upper hand in the newly-constituted State Council of the party, the election was unanimous.

His rivals within the party have apparently decided to remain silent for the time being.

Rajendran’s elevation as secretary would further cement Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s position within the LDF as an all-powerful captain free from scrutiny.

Backing the chief minister

Unlike his predecessors, who critically approached Vijayan and his policies, Rajendran has maintained a close association with the chief minister and has rarely questioned his policies and programmes, much to the dismay of CPI cadres.

He had also deviated often from the CPI’s tradition of questioning CPI(M) dominance within the LDF.

His rivals have been demanding a change of guard for a long time, citing Rajendran’s “total subservience” to the might of Vijayan. But they failed to garner a majority in the State Council.

According to party insiders, Rajendran managed an upper hand in the State Council election by directing the district chapters of the CPI to strictly abide by the age limit of 75 years set by the state committee for the election of members to the Council.

He was also able to get the age limit endorsed by the national leadership.

Other changes

In the meantime, the party dropped senior leaders KE Ismail and C Divakaran from the State Council, citing the age factor. In the press meets held in the run-up to the state conference, Divakaran was highly critical of Rajendran and his unilateral “enforcement” of the age limit to “silence opponents in the party”.

Ismail also levelled allegations against Rajendran in public. Following the directive from above, the Thiruvananthapuram district council decided not to include his name in the list.

Besides Divakaran and Ismail, former three-time MLA and the CPI’s most famous face in Idukki, ES Biji Mol also did not find a place in the new State Council.

In her case, the public shaming of the party seems to have been the reason for her ouster from the State Council. After she lost out in the race for the post of the Idukki district secretary, Biji Mol alleged she was a victim of male chauvinism in the CPI.

She hinted that the CPI men could not tolerate a woman district secretary. This had invited widespread condemnation from the party.

Third consecutive term

Rajendran is the third CPI state secretary to hold the position for three consecutive terms after eminent leaders NE Balram and PK Vasudevan Nair.

“The conference demonstrated that the CPI is not riven by dissension as some quarters had alleged. The party unit is unanimous in its decisions,” Rajendran said after he was unanimously chosen as the state secretary.

“Nonetheless, there is space to democratically air one’s opinion within the party. It is not wrong to voice one’s point of view either.

“Anyone can fearlessly put forward their position in the district or state councils. Final decisions will be taken based on consensus. Once again, we have proved that the CPI is a party with a difference,” he claimed.

Election process

The district chapters of the party elect the CPI State Council members. Before declaring the new State Council, each district must recommend a council member. The delegates from each district meet to choose the council member from their district.

As the quota from the state has been cut down by the central leadership of the CPI, the competition has become stiffer.

Earlier, as many as 30 could be nominated. This has now been cut by half.