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

The CPI went public against the CPI(M) even as the latter has been grappling with a major electoral defeat and declining public support.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jul 02, 2024 | 11:00 AM Updated Jul 02, 2024 | 11:00 AM

The CPI(M) has found itself in turbulent waters following criticisms from within the party and the LDF in Kerala. (CPIM Kerala/Facebook)

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has launched a broadside against its senior partner in Kerala’s LDF, the CPI(M), following allegations of a “disgraceful” unholy nexus between the latter and certain criminal elements.

The criticism came even as internal conflicts over the poll debacle rocked the CPI(M).

CPI’s latest outburst against CPI(M) came after revelations by an ousted member of the latter’s Kannur district committee.

The CPI(M) was at the receiving end after it was questioned internally, about its functioning, especially that of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who hails from Kannur.

Also Read: Is Pinarayi Vijayan ‘cult’ losing its appeal?

The trigger

On 24 June, the CPI(M) expelled from primary membership Manu Thomas, a former CPI(M) Kannur district committee member and ex-president of the district DYFI panel. He had not renewed his membership with the party.

The CPI(M) reportedly initiated disciplinary action against Manu for associating with individuals considered personae non gratae by the party.

It also noted that Manu had been suspiciously inactive over the past few months, including during the Lok Sabha elections, further raising suspicions.

However, countering the charges, Manu clarified that his departure was voluntary. He attributed his resignation to “exhaustion and dissatisfaction” with the party’s internal management.

He also cited “the leadership’s unholy ties with criminal elements” and their refusal to address internal problems despite repeated complaints.

Previously, Manu had accused some CPI(M) Kannur leaders of being involved in gold smuggling operations, and having connections with Akash Thillankeri, an accused in gold smuggling and several other criminal cases, including murder.

Thillankeri was arrested twice under the provisions of the Kerala Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Act (KAAPA) in 2023.

Manu specifically accused M Shajar, CPI(M) district committee member and Kerala State Youth Commission chairman, of having connections with Tillankeri.

It was learnt that Manu became disenchanted with the party after his complaints lodged with the party’s former state secretary, the late Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and the incumbent secretary, MV Govindan, evoked no action.

Also Read: Post-poll debacle CPI(M) meetings flag Kerala CM’s arrogance, functioning — is Pinarayi Vijayan listening?

Provocation by Jayarajan

The situation spiralled when senior CPI(M) leader P Jayarajan made a social media post on Manu. Many party workers viewed the post to be made in poor taste, further fuelling the conflict.

P Jayarajan. (CPIM Kannur/Facebook)

P Jayarajan. (CPIM Kannur/Facebook)

Jayarajan, a former district secretary of the CPI(M), enjoys popularity among a section of party hardliners in Kannur.

Manu responded by publicly denouncing certain leaders within the Kannur faction. He alleged that those leaders, including Jayarajan and his son, maintained “unholy” alliances with criminal elements and gold smugglers.

His revelations whipped up a storm within the party. He said he chose to distance himself from the CPI(M) due to its failure to take action against those he had accused.

Addressing the media, he criticised certain members for “exploiting the CPI(M) for unethical activities” and expressed discontent over the party’s reluctance to address those issues.

CPI goes public

Amidst the brewing infight within the CPI(M), the CPI made a rare and pointed critique of its ally.

In a public statement, CPI state secretary Binoy Viswam expressed dismay over the Kannur developments.

Viswam highlighted the historical significance of Kannur, known for its revolutionary heritage, and lamented the current state of affairs, which he described as a disgrace to the Leftist cause.

Binoy Viswam, CPI Kerala State Committee secretary. (Binoy Viswam/Facebook)

Binoy Viswam, CPI Kerala State Committee secretary. (Binoy Viswam/Facebook)

“The reports of unholy nexus with criminals and gold smuggling gangs from the land of Kayyur, Karivallur, and Thillengeri are nothing but an ignominy for the red flag,” Viswam stated.

“It is unbecoming that those who try to project themselves as the protectors of the Left were in turn the masters of the nexus. It is these people who force the public to think that the Left has deviated from its ideals,” he said.

Viswam’s statement further emphasised that the time had come for the party to unequivocally declare that those who betray the Leftist ideals are unworthy of even a shred of forgiveness.

Reportedly, the CPI leader’s remarks underscored the growing frustration and disillusionment within the broader Left movement in Kerala.

Also Read: ED attaches land, bank deposits of CPI(M) in Karuvannur bank case

Fissures to the fore

The CPI(M) has been struggling to regain its footing after the Left’s Lok Sabha poll debacle.

Faced with a reduced mandate, the party as well as the government led by Vijayan, faced internal and external pressures.

Criticisms mounted regarding the government’s handling of various issues, including economic management, police highhandedness and allegations of corruption.

At the same time, Left leaders stated that the public spat between CPI and CPI(M) has significant implications for the Front in Kerala.

“The CPI(M), already reeling from an electoral defeat and facing public scrutiny, finds itself having egg on its face due to this latest scandal,” an LDF leader said on the condition of anonymity.

“The CPI’s open condemnation not only highlights the severity of the situation but also signals potential rifts within the Left coalition,” he opined.

Also Read: Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter Veena and her firm — what is the Union ministry probing?

Pinarayi under scrutiny

Vijayan’s leadership, too, has been under scrutiny for some time.

Pinarayi Vijayan and the CPI(M) are under fire regarding administrative decisions and the perceived lack of transparency. (CPIM Kerala/Facebook)

Pinarayi Vijayan and the CPI(M) are under fire regarding administrative decisions and the perceived lack of transparency. (CPIM Kerala/Facebook)

Post-election, there has been a volley of criticism against Vijayan and the CPI(M) regarding administrative decisions and the perceived lack of transparency.

Allegations of corruption, and other high-profile cases, have further tarnished the party’s image. Manu’s revelation of the “unholy nexus” came at this juncture.

“The CPI(M) is going through one of its toughest periods in recent history. The electoral defeat has exposed vulnerabilities, and the latest scandal only adds to their woes. Pinarayi Vijayan’s leadership is being questioned, and this public disagreement could potentially weaken a united LDF,” a CPI leader said.

Left leaders were also concerned over the implications of the internal conflict within the alliance.

“If the CPI and CPI(M) cannot resolve their differences, it could lead to a weakened coalition, making it more challenging to govern effectively and respond to public needs,” the leader said.

“Furthermore, a divided Left front could open opportunities for Opposition parties to exploit the weaknesses, potentially leading to further electoral losses,”  he observed.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)

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