An LDF mayor who admires a Kerala BJP MP is CPI and CPI(M)’s new headache

Thrissur Mayor MK Varghese's 'respect' for BJP MP Suresh Gopi has created rifts between allies CPI(M) and CPI in Kerala.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jul 10, 2024 | 3:00 PM Updated Jul 10, 2024 | 3:00 PM

BJP MP Suresh Gopi and LDF Mayor MK Varghese

The ruling party of Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), is dealing with a new headache.

This time, they must deal with a mayor who frequently admires a BJP leader.

It’s CPI(M) leader and Thrissur Mayor MK Varghese who does not mince words in his open admiration for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and Minister of State, Suresh Gopi.

While his “respect” is causing significant unease within his party, the CPI, part of the LDF has criticised this. At the same time, the UDF is using this to reiterate its claim that there is an unholy nexus between CPI(M) and BJP.

Also read: Widening rift between allies? CPI condemns CPI(M) for Kannur turmoil

‘All for development’

Varghese, who openly expressed his respect for Gopi on several occasions, said in a recent media interaction, that he supports Gopi for the city’s development.

He clarified his stance, stating, “I am not with the BJP; I am a mayor representing the LDF. Suresh Gopi and I represent two different ideologies, but he is Thrissur’s MP, and I have to support him for the city’s development.”

Varghese further stated, “Irrespective of party lines, unity for development is essential, as it benefits the people. I have learned that he has significant project ideas for Thrissur, and as the mayor, I must help realize these projects. That’s why the people elected both him and me.”

When asked about any objections from the CPI regarding his stance, Varghese responded, “I am unaware of any objections. If there are differences, they will be sorted out. I am not associating with Suresh Gopi; I am cooperating with an MP, a Union Minister.”

Suresh Gopi returns praise

Meanwhile, Suresh Gopi praised Varghese, stating, “It’s appreciable that there are some who look forward to doing good for the people.”

BJP state leadership echoed this sentiment, with state president K Surendran commenting, “The people of Thrissur have high regard for Varghese.”

The controversy of this ‘open admiration’ traces back to the Lok Sabha Election campaign, during which Varghese publicly stated that Suresh Gopi possessed qualities fitting for an MP, a remark that stirred discontent within the LDF.

VS Sunil Kumar, the then-LDF candidate, openly criticized Varghese’s comments.

In the post-electoral analysis, the CPI took the stance that the Mayor’s admiration might also have played a role in the poll debacle of the left in Thrissur Lok Sabha Constituency thereby granting BJP its first electoral victory in the form of Suresh Gopi.

Also read: CPI (M) state secretary MV Govindan skips inauguration of controversial martyr’s memorial in Kerala

CPI’s ire

In response to these developments, CPI District Secretary KK Valsaraj has demanded Varghese’s resignation, asserting that the mayor has “crossed the limits” by supporting Suresh Gopi and the BJP’s politics.

Valsaraj emphasized that Varghese’s actions are inconsistent with the principles and ideologies of the LDF.

The CPI views Varghese’s admiration for a BJP leader as undermining the party’s core values and potentially confusing voters about the LDF’s stance against the BJP.

According to the CPI, the left front in the state, as part of the broader Left movement in India, maintains a firm opposition to the BJP’s policies and political strategies.

“It’s at this juncture that a leader who is also a Mayor publicly supports a BJP leader. The people might see this as diluting this opposition and compromising the LDF’s integrity. The CPI believes that such actions could weaken the party’s efforts to present a unified front against the BJP, especially in a politically sensitive state like Kerala,” said a CPI leader.

Also Read: Over-centralisation, base erosion, RSS rise: CPI(M) dissects poll debacle

Congress cashes in

Adding to the political drama, the Congress party has seized the opportunity to criticize the CPI (M), suggesting a covert nexus between the CPI (M) and the BJP.

According to Congress leaders, Varghese’s open admiration for Suresh Gopi is evidence of a growing closeness between the two parties.

Congress has long accused the CPI (M) of covertly aligning with the BJP, undermining the secular and progressive values that the Left claims to uphold.

Senior Congress leaders argue that Varghese’s statements reveal a deeper political strategy, suggesting that the CPI (M) may be compromising its ideological stance for political convenience.

They point to similar instances in the past where CPI (M) leaders have shown leniency towards BJP policies or leaders.

Also Read: CPI fumes at ally CPI(M)’s student wing SFI: “Change its ways, else will become liability”

CPI (M)’s dilemma

At the same time, the CPI (M)’s leadership is said to be facing a profound dilemma in addressing the situation with Mayor Varghese.

On the one hand, they fear that openly condemning Varghese could fracture internal unity and alienate supporters who appreciate his pragmatic approach to development.

On the other hand, remaining silent or offering tepid responses risks validating the Congress’s accusations of a CPI (M)-BJP nexus and undermines the party’s staunch opposition to BJP policies.

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula)

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