A raft of controversies has brought the Kerala CPM’s “Kannur Communism” brand under scrutiny at a time its leadership has been trying to paper over the party fault lines following the disastrous Lok Sabha campaign.
One, a party supporter and NRI investor has committed suicide in a party-ruled village, for which his wife has blamed a local CPM leader. Two, a prominent party MLA has been accused in the attempted murder of a CPM rebel.
Three, a sexual harassment case has been registered against the eldest son of party state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. All three controversies are centred on Kannur.
Some say the developments are a symptom of the rot in the state party leadership, 70 per cent of which is made up of leaders from the Malabar region, mainly Kannur.
At least Sajan Parayil’s suicide and the alleged complicity of A.N. Shamseer, the Thalassery MLA, in the murder attempt on C.O.T. Naseer are being attributed to ego tussles in the Kannur unit.
Sajan killed himself allegedly because the Anthoor municipality in Kannur had denied him the occupancy certificate for a Rs 15-crore convention centre he had built, preventing him from starting commercial operations.
Sajan’s wife Beena has blamed her husband’s death on the municipality chairperson, who happens to be the wife of CPM central committee member M.V. Govindan Master. Beena says the chairperson told her husband he would not get the certificate as long as “I am sitting in this chair”.
After the matter received wide publicity, the party suspended four officials of the municipality and set up a police inquiry into the suicide.
It’s now known that Sajan had sought the then party district secretary P. Jayarajan’s intervention to sort the matter out which, on hindsight, turned out a mistake.
Although Jayarajan has come out in defence of the chairperson, sources in Kannur say that Govindan Master is a key member of a lobby within the “Kannur lobby” that has been working against the former district secretary.
Little wonder that the party state secretariat, while admitting that some mistakes were made, has given a clean chit to the chairperson.
What is baffling is how four officials of a municipality, which is totally controlled by the CPM in the absence of any opposition in the village, could deny a licence to a party worker without the chairperson’s knowledge, as the party suggests.
There seems a lack of concern about small investors like Sajan, while the interests of a select few investors are taken care of with much fanfare.
Interestingly, as soon as P. Jayarajan’s candidature from the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency was announced, he was replaced as district secretary by M.V. Jayarajan, political secretary to the chief minister (Kannur has many heavyweight Jayarajans).
However, two other district secretaries who contested the elections continue to hold their posts in Kottayam and Ernakulam.
P. Jayarajan was one of the first to call on Naseer, a former CPM youth leader who contested as an Independent from Vadakara, after he survived an attack a day before the counting of Lok Sabha votes.
Jayarajan had also made it a point to tell journalists that he had no hand in the attempt on Naseer’s life, which many found amusing at the time.
The supporters of P. Jayarajan, who is already accused in two sensational murders, saw the attack as an attempt to frame him. But the air of suspicion was somewhat cleared once Naseer named Shamseer as the main conspirator, although the police are yet to record his statement.
A CPM leader from Kannur said on the condition of anonymity that there was a conscious effort by the leadership to cut P. Jayarajan to size in Kannur as “he has grown too big for his boots”. Shamseer is apparently being groomed to take the Kannur brand forward.