Intro: Now, can central leadership ignore the views of such a resourceful unit? If they take such a route can their voyage be smooth? This is the challenge Yechury has to counter when he starts to handle Kerala affairs.
Sitaram Yechury has been elected as the CPM General Secretary, political observers and people by and large in Kerala are inquisitive about the changes the party state unit may undergo. Kerala CPM has been undergoing fierce faction fights since more than one and half decades. While Pinarayi Vijayan, the state secretary until last month, controls the state party apparatus, former CM and current Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly VS Achutanandan commands the support of party sympathisers and party voters. Their fights always cost VS several fortunes. The only living founder leader of the CPM even lost his Polit Bureau (PB) membership, thanks to the central leadership led by Prakash Karat. Prakash Karat was always in support of Pinarayi faction. Even during the controversy of SNC Lavalin Kerala Hydroelectric scandal case, when corruption charges kept on showering on Pinarayi, and when VS allegedly tried his level best to trap hisbête noir in the case, Karat took an open stand in favour of his blue eyed boy. Otherwise PB might have removed Pinarayi from the post of state secretary. But, Sitaram Yechury was always sympathetic towards VS Achutananda, even though his voice was always solo.
Draft Political Resolution
Now, Yechury has succeeded in reaching the top, despite stiff competition from S Ramachandran Pillai and the opposition from Kerala unit, the most powerful one in the country. A few incidents in this connection are interesting: One day before the General Secretary election, VS wished Yechury a success, obviously in the presence of media men. Yechury thanked him saying that his success would be of all including VS. The same day SRP told the media that the system of wishing success is not CPM’s cup of tea. After taking over as the General Secretary Yechury told the media that the issue of VS’s contesting in the next Assembly Election 2016 will be discussed by the party. He also said, between the lines, that health and energy are important. He was indirectly mentioning that VS’s age is not an issue. Answering a channel reporter Yechury said that party has not decided Pinarayi as the CM candidate; party would discuss it at appropriate time. This is in sharp contrast with the statement of a senior Kerala CPM leader and Pinarayi’s trusted Lieutenant EP Jayarajan’s earlier statement that Pinarayi is the leader people of the state await as their CM. In short, new general secretary appears to be holding a stand different from his predecessor Karat.
Still a one million dollar question remains: Can Sitaram Yechury overrules every stand of the Kerala state unit? The answer is – “It is not easy always”. Because, Kerala unit possesses not only muscle power but also the other important power, that is, money. It has been in the grapevine that Kerala unit is the financial source for the central unit. PB members have to travel by plane to state units every month and have to avail decent accommodation for attending state committee, state secretariat meetings, etc. once in a month. They have to run the central committee office in Delhi, give allowances to the leaders, etc. Considering the other two units, Thripura and Bengal, Kerala appears to be picking up the tabs for these sorts.
There is logic behind this assumption: Kerala is a rich unit. They are having state headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram with all modern facilities and similar offices in all districts. Even area and local committees are having own offices in expensive locations. On top of that Centre od Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Karshaka Sangham (farmers’ organisation) and even NGO Union (organisation of the non gazetted government employees) are having own spacious offices. Crores worth Vismaya Water Theme Park in Kannur is controlled by party cadres. Several hospitals with modern facilities are controlled by party men. These institutions are several crores worth. Innumerous co-operative societies and co-operative banks are under the control of partymen. CITU unions have spread their tentacles in all fields pertaining to commercial and industrial activities. The levy from the employees who got jobs due to party is a huge source of income. Even party insiders agree this in private conversations. There is a saying in Kerala that CPM is the largest employer in the state and they operate in corporate style. The change in the lifestyle of the party leaders is a clear indication to this.
Now, can central leadership ignore the views of such a resourceful unit? If they take such a route can their voyage be smooth? This is the challenge Yechury has to counter when he starts to handle Kerala affairs.
T Satisan (The writer is Kochi based correspondent)