Convener of Kerala’s ruling LDF goes ‘missing’ even as government sails in turbulent waters

CPI(M) strongman EP Jayarajan has 'disappeared' from the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, and is in Kannur without any valid reasons.

ByK A Shaji

Published Nov 29, 2022 | 4:15 PMUpdatedNov 30, 2022 | 9:21 AM

EP Jayarajan

CPI(M) heavyweight EP Jayarajan positioned himself as a fierce defender of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet ever since the ruling LDF in Kerala appointed the 71-year-old leader as its convener in April this year.

Known for his scathing attacks on political opponents and the critics of the chief minister, Jayarajan has always remained a close confidant and ardent fan of Vijayan with whom he has had a rare camaraderie ever since their formative days in the traditional left citadel of Kannur.

Their bonding became visible on 13 July when he manhandled two Youth Congress activists who had waved black flags and shouted slogans against Vijayan aboard a Kannur-Thiruvananthapuram flight.

Describing the duo as terrorists, Jayarajan flexed his muscles and pushed them away even as Vijayan ignored them.

The commercial airline, IndiGo, banned Jayarajan and the two youths from its flights for three weeks. The CPM(I) leader later justified his action by saying that it was to save the chief minister from an assassination bid.

Jayarajan swore to continue assaulting anyone raising his voice against Vijayan.

Jayarajan

EP Jayarajan at a recent sports event in Kannur, his home state. (South First)

A couple of weeks before the IndiGo incident, Jayarajan grabbed headlines after an alleged Youth Congress worker had hurled a cracker at the AKG Centre, the state headquarters of the CPI(M), close to 30 June midnight.

Though the cracker-burst caused no damage to the building, Jayarajan termed it a bomb attack that shook even the foundation of the multi-storeyed building.

When reporters pointed out that it was a cracker, Jayarajan blasted them. He felt they were belittling the powerful attack on the state office of the ruling Communist party for the sake of US imperialism.

US imperialism has always been Jayarajan’s enemy.

Jayarajan had never missed an opportunity to warn CPII(M) cadres against the nefarious designs of US imperialism to overthrow the Pinarayi Vijayan government. The CPI(M) leader was sure that the LDF government’s alternative Communist agenda that would weaken the foundation of capitalism.

Jayarajan

Jayarajan has never lost an opportunity to warn the party cadre against the nefarious designs of US imperialism. (South First)

For the past two months, Jayarajan’s verbal defence of Vijayan and his tirade against US imperialism have been missing. So is the LDF convener.

Jayarajan disappeared at a time the government has been passing through turbulent waters and Vijayan trying to find an anchor.

For instance, the massive protest rally the LDF took out to the Raj Bhavan to `expose the Sangh Parivar agenda of Governor Arif Muhammad Khan’ on 15 November. LDF leaders from the state, and even CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, participated in the march. But Jayarajan was conspicuous by his absence.

The CPI(M) has been fighting the Governor “legally, politically and constitutionally”, accusing the latter of destroying the state’s higher education sector and weakening the government.

Jayarajan has not yet come out in defence of the government in the ongoing Vizhinjam transhipment container seaport imbroglio or when the administration was forced to backtrack from the controversial semi-high-speed SilverLine rail corridor project.

EPP

EP Jayarajan (right) with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and late CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. (Supplied)

CPI(M) leadership, meanwhile, cited health reasons for the sudden disappearance of Jayarajan, the number two in the first Pinarayi Vijayan government in which he was the minister for industries.

Sources in the party, however, confirmed that Jayarajan has almost decided to retire from public life because he was sidelined in the organisation.

Jayarajan was appointed the LDF convener after he had openly expressed displeasure for dropping him from the second consecutive ministry headed by Vijayan. He had then threatened to pull out of political life.

He later eyed the coveted post of the party’s state secretary. He was hopeful of becoming the secretary after the death of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who had led the party in Kerala for over a decade.

To Jayarajan’s utter shock, the CPI(M) leadership chose MV Govindan as the successor of Balakrishnan, considering his blemishless track record as a party ideologist and popular leader.

For Jayarajan, Govindan was a junior comrade at the party.

M V Govindan

MV Govindan, the CPI(M) state secretary in Kerala. (KB Jayachandran/South First)

Additionally, the party included Govindan in the politburo, the highest decision-making body of the CPI(M). Jayarajan’s seniority was once again overlooked, though he had groomed Govidan in the party’s Kannur unit.

Now, Jayarajan has been confining himself to his residence in Kannur even without issuing routine media statements on the current political developments.

The only occasion when he created headlines recently was when he mispronounced Argentinian football star Lionel Messi’s name as Mercy in a television interview. The visuals went viral on social media, and he became the butt of ridicule.

Jayarajan tried to explain the faux pas. He claimed the interviewer had referred to Messi as Mercy, and he just repeated the same, thinking it was correct.

It was not the first time that Jayarajan had landed himself in such an embarrassing situation though the Marxist leader was known more for his acerbic behaviour.

A television news anchor sought Jayarajan’s comment on the 3 June 2016 death of the legendary boxer, Mohammad Ali. Jayarajan was then holding the additional portfolio of sports in the Vijayan ministry.

Jayarajan said over the phone: “I just heard about the sudden demise of Mohammad Ali in America,” he said, before startling the television anchor and the audience. “Ali was an eminent sports personality from Kerala and had won a gold medal.”

Pinarayi

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (KB Jayachandran/South First)

Realising that Jayarajan was about to list out the contributions of the ‘Malayali’ Ali to his home state, the television anchor acted swiftly and disconnected the live telecast and saved the minister from further embarrassment.

But the damage had been done. Meme factories worked overtime and roasted the minister on social media.

When television channels discussed his absence from the Raj Bhavan march, Jayarajan clarified that he had availed leave from the party to undergo allopathic and ayurvedic treatments for post-Covid health issues.

He, however, kept mum when journalists quoted party sources as saying that the one-month leave granted to him had ended on 6 November.

Jayarajan last appeared in public on 26 September when a Thiruvananthapuram court summoned him for allegedly vandalising the state Assembly when he was an opposition MLA.

sivankutty

The then Opposition MLA V Sivankutty disrupts the budget speech by KM Mani in the Kerala Assembly. (Supplied)

He, along with some other CPI(M) MLAs, damaged the Assembly’s properties as part of their protests against the then finance minister K M Mani, who was accused of corruption.

Jayarajan had to resign from the first Vijayan cabinet after charges of nepotism were levelled against him. One of his nephews was appointed to a public sector company under his department.

Later he was reinducted to the ministry after a vigilance probe gave him a clean chit. In between, the nephew, too, resigned from the post.

Hailing from Pappinassery, a CPI(M)  village in Kannur, Jayarajan is known as a local strongman of the party groomed by Vijayan and the late leader MV Raghavan.

After the ouster of  Raghavan from the party in 1986, Jayarajan became a close confidant of Vijayan. While he was the general manager of the party mouthpiece Deshabhimani, Jayarajan landed in trouble for accepting ₹2 crore as a donation from a Tamil Nadu-based controversial lottery agent, Santiago Martin.

“The sudden disappearance of Jayarajan from state politics is a matter of concern. Either Vijayan or Jayarajan must explain what happened in between to ignore his responsibilities as the LDF convener,” K Jayanth, a general secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, opined.

Jayarajan could not be reached despite repeated attempts.