From a one-room office on the first floor of a faded barrack-style tile-roofed building on the narrow southern bazaar street of Payyanur to a swanky three-story corporate-style office a few meters away, testifies of CPM’s transformation over the past four decades in this northern Kerala city, a place known until recently for its cultural richness and contribution to the freedom movement.
Payyanur has been in the headlines over the past week after a furious section within the local CPM leadership opened a Pandora’s box, forcing state leadership into firefighting mode. – they are still struggling to put out the fire lit by outgoing regional party secretary V Kunhikrishnan. When it comes to the CPM, Payyanur has always seen unity at the grassroots, but the ongoing fiasco is the culmination of the war between the ideologically committed old guard and the power-hungry new generation or, more precisely, between the “Vellur Lobby” and “Payyanur Lobby”, two local committees under the Payyanur Regional Committee.
“The problem had been brewing for a few years since the party decided to launch a fundraising campaign for the construction of the new office of the regional committee. The chitty was launched with attractive prizes for participants, which itself upset some of the idealists. Also, the party could increase to double the target it set when it decided to raise funds to support the family of CV Dhanaraj, a DYFI man who was killed in 2016 in Ramanthali near of Payyanur, allegedly in the hands of RSS workers,” said a stalwart comrade and member of the local CPM committee on condition of anonymity. “The embezzlement of the martyrs’ funds, the funds collected for the construction of the party office and during the elections were discussed within the party locally, but no one was ready to raise the issue openly because they were afraid of the local leadership of the dominated party”. by a section led by Payyanur MLA TI Madhusudanan,” he adds.
But things have changed since KP Madhu, who was the candidate of the Madhusudanan-led faction, had to be removed from his position as the party’s Payyanur regional secretary for sharing a sordid video clip in a WhatsApp group. The party nominated Kunhikrishnan, a silent but stalwart party man and a qualified listener as regional secretary, who had lost by only two votes in the competition for the same position earlier. After taking office as regional secretary, Kunhikrishnan searched through the books of accounts where he found glaring discrepancies in the accounts relating to the construction of the new office building for the regional committee.
“It is a known fact among party cadres that the faction led by Madhusudanan never wanted Kunhikrishnan to become regional secretary as it would not serve their interests, that is why they lobbied intensively and succeeded in getting him. However, the party had no choice but to appoint him regional secretary to save face when allegations against KP Madhu surfaced,” said Appukkuttan Karayil, a former party member and current committee member. Using his auditing skills, Kunhikrishnan prepared a detailed report, upon which the Kannur district committee of the CPM appointed another two-member committee who had no other choice than to give a nod to Kunhikrishnan’s findings because of the rigor of the report supplemented with ample evidence.
CPM sources say the party could have somehow managed to save face had it decided to take appropriate action against Madhusudanan and others who were mentioned in Kunhikrishnan’s report. “What the party supporters in Payyanur are unable to digest is why action has also been taken against Kunhikrishnan who has given a detailed and accurate report, that too inside the party forum. He never said anything outside except in party forums,” sources said. After the news of the financial embezzlement became public, the party decided to demote Madhusudanan from the district secretariat to the district committee with a similar action against two other members of the regional committee. Three other members were publicly censored. At the same time, the action against the plaintiff, Kunhikrishnan, was very harsh – he was removed from office, under the guise of unity in the party.
When the party leadership’s decision to act against the complainant and the accused was reported at the meetings of the general body of 12 local committees under the Payyanur regional committee, in the majority of the meetings, the officials in charge of reports have faced harsh criticism and, in some places, officials have not even been allowed to explain the party’s decision, according to well-informed sources. “In accordance with the party system, whatever was reported in the local committees would come for the branch committee discussions which are expected to start from Saturday – the dissatisfaction of the majority of members with the action taken against Kunhikrishnan is likely to burst,” sources said.
During the inauguration of the Vellur East branch committee office building which bears the name of Kannan Nair, a former party official who had an unblemished public life by following the ideology of the CPM in the letter and l ‘mind it was contradictory to see the image of Kunhikrishnan sitting among the audience while the people who took action against him aggressively tried to assert that the whole affair was nothing but a conspiracy aimed at defaming the party. “If the party had taken strong action against the culprits by confirming Kunhikrishnan’s findings, it would have been a strong message that could have enhanced the party’s image. However, by protecting the accused and punishing the complainant, a message was sent not to question the unhealthy or wrong actions of the party,” says writer CV Balakrishnan, also a childhood friend of Kunhikrishnan.
Although the party blamed the conspirators and the media for trying to defame him, the fact is that he was still unable to convince Kunhikrishnan despite his best efforts. “At this time, I am firm on my previous stance of ending my public life. My conclusions are supported by adequate evidence, but it is not yet time to make any further disclosures,” Kunhikrishnan told TOI. Kunhikrishnan’s unexpected decision to withdraw into a shell and abide by party restrictions, even when he decided to stick to his previous position, won him more admirers both within the party and in the community. civil society. “There is a minority like Kunhikrishnan in all parties. Such people are an inspiration to true supporters of democracy. They have no personal grudges – their loyalty is to ideology, not individuals,” says writer and critic MN Karassery.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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