On a slippery slope

    02-Dec-2020
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A slew of controversies and corruption cases has put CPM, the lead partner of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala, in serious trouble
 
-Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao 
 

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with M Sivasankar,
former principal secretary, the main accused in gold smuggling case
 
 
The Left, which is only left in Kerala, after the loss of West Bengal and Tripura, as the last ‘red fort’ is apparently in trouble in that state because of recent exposure of corruption in the administration. The image is further damaged because of gold smuggling case and involvement of progeny of CPM leaders in financial underhand dealings, drug trafficking and also smuggling. The cases now under investigation by the central agencies are revealing startling things, with the needle of suspicion pointing at the Chief Minister’s office. Before this revelation, the CPM was already facing the serious charges of murdering the political rivals of BJP and Congress. Since 2016 when the Left came to power there were hundreds of political murders out of which over 50% murders occurred in Kannur district, the native district of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and all-powerful state CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. That one district dominance in the party created a new word “Kannur Gang”. Even CPM cadre concede, albeit in private, that “Kannur gang” is hijacking the party agenda and hurting the party interests. They suspect the party prospects may take a dip in the forthcoming elections to the local bodies and the assembly if the correction is not made immediately.
 
Kerala will go to polls in about six months. Kerala voters have a tendency to vote out the government at the end of the term and put hope on the alternative. Thus, the power changes between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) lead by CPM and the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) every five years. Rarely ruling coalition gets successive terms. Going by that it is end of governance of LDF. However, till a year ago the LDF leaders are boasting of victory in 2021 elections because of their self-certified good governance. Even at the beginning of the Covid19 Kerala was projected as the best state in containing corona. The efforts of its health minister K K Sailaja Teacher has won laurels from the international community including W.H.O. That Kerala slide down in pandemic control, subsequent to Onam festival and the situation is now causing worry in October is a different matter.
 
The CPM leaders including the education minister Jaleel and the CMO are on the radar of the central investigating agencies. Worried over the CBI investigation before the elections the Kerala cabinet resolved not to allow CBI into the state. Since the gold smuggling case has been taken up by NIA, the CPM is worried, as that agency is coming out with startling facts regarding the involvement of senior officials and politicians close to CM in the gold smuggling case. With the principal secretary to CM Siva Sankar already arrested but reportedly not cooperating with the investigation, allegedly to protect the CMO and CM, the suspicion of involvement of CPM higherups including ministers and CM are growing. Speculations are rife that NIA may soon seek permission to interrogate the CM Pinarayi Vijayan. There are rumors of NIA notifying CM as a co-accused in that case are thick in the air.
 
Meanwhile the state CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is forced to go on “medical leave” by the party for an unknown period after the issue of his son Bineesh Kodiyeri arrest by ED became an additional embarrassment for the party and government. Bineesh is booked on drug trafficking-related money laundering charges. Bineesh saga is becoming an embarrassment even to his father as he is accused of rape by a bar woman and a case of paternity test is pending against him in Mumbai high court.
 
Jaleel, the minister for Education is also under NIA scanner as his role in gold smuggling through Quran import is suspected. From UAE the copies Quran were imported for free distribution through diplomatic channel and it is now revealed by Swapna, the main accused, that gold was smuggled through Quran bundles. Jaleel, the minister for Education is also under NIA scanner as his role in gold smuggling through Quran import is suspected. From UAE the copies Quran were imported for free distribution through diplomatic channel and it is now revealed by Swapna, the main accused, that gold was smuggled through Quran bundles.
 
Many cases of corruption are haunting the CPM leaders starting from CM to the level of local councilors. They include the nepotism towards their own comrades, serious cases of SNC Lavalin, Life Mission project etc. The relation between the UAE consulate in Cochin and the Pinarayi Vijayan government and others in position is quite curious and yet be revealed in its totality.
 
But the image of both CM Vijayan and his party CPM has certainly taken a beating. ‘The corrupt CM and corrupt party CPM’ are the new slogan of opponents which is already catching up with Malayali voter. These allegations became so undefendable that the CPM has decided not to participate in the prime-time TV discussions of Malayalam channels. A casual statement by the CM Pinarayi Vijayan that all the CCTV footage of his official residence were destroyed by lightning is new handle to beat the CPM and its CM.
 
Many cases of corruption are haunting the CPM leaders starting from CM to the level of local councilors. They include the nepotism towards their own comrades, serious cases of SNC Lavalin, Life Mission Project, gold smuggling, etc.
 
Despite all this there is no overt dissent in the party as the powerful ‘kannur lobby’ holds the tight grip on the party. The Kannur lobby is feared by the cadre as that lobby had the history of eliminating its own dissecting party comrades who knows much about the behind scenes actions of those on the top of the party. Even the central leadership of the party is not responding to the grave charges that Kerala leaders are facing as it is the only state where CPM is in power and party is sustained by the funds from this Kerala unit. The internal differences in the polit bureau of the party and its undeclared split into Kerala and Bengal lobbies is also took advantage by Pinarayi Vijayan. The former CM Achyutanandan who had the guts to speak has become aged and is not keeping good health.
 
Worried over the developments and loss of image of CPM the cadre is restless but are restrained now because of the upcoming local body elections followed by the state assembly elections as those elections are crucial for the party. Only hope for Left now in Kerala is organizational weakness and differences with in UDF and Congress loss of face in recent Bihar elections.
 
(The author is a columnist and freelance Journalist)