Promising more tamasha in the on-going infighting in the Kerala CPM, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the Thalassery-Kannur strongman and master-mind of the CPM'swar against RSS, has also thrown his hat into the ring, turning the battle three-cornered.
Despite his unfruitful attempts to quell, groups led by Kannur strongman E.K. Nayanar and Alappuzha hero V.S. Atchudanandan existed in the CPM, even during the last years of communist patriarch E.M.S. Namboothiripad.
In 1996, when CPM was sure to capture power, its Chief Ministerial candidate V.S. Atchudanandan was defeated in the Communist red fort of Mararikulam in Alappuzha due to cross voting by Nayanar supporters. Nayanar became Chief Minister in 1996 and V.S. openly accused the Kannur lobby of torpedoing his victory. He cannot be blamed, because 1996 is the only poll, when CPM lost in Mararikulam.
After Nayanar'sdeath, the mantle passed on to Pinarayi-Kodiyeri axis. Even in 2006, attempts were made by the Pinarayi Vijayan led CPM state leadership to deny ticket to VS. But due to mass uprising and politburo'sintervention, V.S. got the safe Malampuzha seat. Attempts were made to deny him the CM'sgaddi. Here again Parliamentary Board (PB) had to intervene.
The continuous war between the Pinarayi and V.S. groups has made the administration crumbling, with all round failure in all areas. Ultimately the P.B. had to intervene and suspended both from the politburo.
Despite all these, there is no respite. The state and district committee elections, as a prelude to the 19th Party Congress saw bitter infighting between V.S. and Pinarayi. Pinarayi took complete control over the party defeating V.S. even in his strongholds of Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Palakkad and Kochi. Even M.Ps close to V.S. like N.N. Krishnadas, Ajayakumar etc. were denied entry, even into local committees.
Deeply alarmed at the continuing rot in the CPM, the P.B. has taken measures to save the sinking party. The 19th Party Congress of Coimbatore has made Kodiyeri Balakrishnan the new politburo member from Kerala. Also Finance Minister Thomas Issac has been made Central Committee member.
The party has to now look beyond both Pinarayi and V.S. due to various factors. V.S. has proved to be totally ineffective. Being an opposition leader is one thing and being a C.M. is another. All his attempts, on various areas including demolitions of resorts at government owned lands in Munnar have ended in fiascos. Moreover, he has not been able to take the party with him. Also public support for him has waned due to his below zero performance. Pinarayi is steeped in corruption and arrogance. He is facing CBI probe in the Rs. 330 crore power projects modernisation scam namely, SNC-Lavalin. Moreover, his carrying bullets in luggage during air travel, his foreign jaunts, his links with mafia groups like Lottery King. Sandeago Martin, Farris Aboobacker etc. have earned bad name for him and the party.
The names of Education Minister M.A. Baby (Christian) Paloli Mohammed Kutty (Muslim) and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan were under consideration for PB membership. At a time when CPM was trying to mend fences with both Christians and Muslims, who form almost 45 per cent of the electorate and who supported CPM in the 2006 polls now feel let down due to CPM'sattempt to take over Educational Institutions run by them, why did they choose Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, sidelining Baby and Paloli?
The answer lies in the fact, that for quite some time, Kodiyeri has been trying to distance himself from both Pinarayi and V.S. Knowing that cadres and supporters are getting pained and frustrated at the continuing VS-Pinarayi war, he has tried to get out of the cliche and evolve an image for himself. Neither VS nor Pinarayi, now have the unconditional support of the CPM, can be gauged from the fact that, both were booed and attacked with empty liquor bottles at the CPM state meet in Kottayam.
Kodiyeri feels that if CPM needs a new, media-savvy and youthful C.M. to replace the inefficient V.S., the choice will be naturally him. Moreover if Pinarayi Vijayan is charge-sheeted by CBI in SNC-Lavalin scam, the party may make him state secretary. On both counts, it is a win-win situation for the Thalassery strongman and his smart moves.
After becoming P.B. member, Kodiyeri has been speaking with renewed energy. He says he has been entrusted the job of making both Pinarayi and Chief Minister V.S. obey party and PB directives and not to fight each other. Also he is tactically trying to woo both V.S. and Pinarayi groupers. This has caused heartburn among Pinarayi supporters, especially in Kannur.