THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: CPM leader and former Speaker M Vijayakumar still has a trove of letters written by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, which he considers as a prized possession and holds it close to his heart. Those letters formed part of several secretive missives that Kodiyeri had sent him while the latter was lodged at Kannur prison under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the period of emergency.
Kodiyeri was the SFI state secretary when he was jailed, while Vijayakumar was its joint secretary. After Kodiyeri was jailed, Vijayakumar was elevated as acting secretary to carry out the party works in the former’s absence.
While Vijayakumar was stationed in Thiruvananthapuram and Kodiyeri in Kannur jail, the two regularly required to be in touch with each other to run the party machinery. Writing letters was fraught with danger as the letters went through the hands of the prison officials. But there was no other way forward. Finally, they decided to communicate through coded letters to protect the party’s secrecy and to mislead the authorities.
Vijayakumar said frequent mention of words ‘kalyanam’ and ‘samskarikam’ in the letters which often perplexed the prison authorities. “Kalyanam or marriage meant meetings. Samskarikam means general body meeting of the outfit. These coded-words were meant to convey our message and throw the authorities off the trail,” said Vijayakumar.
Vijayakumar and Kodiyeri knew each other well from the early 70s and at that time Kodiyeri was a pre-degree student of Mahatma Gandhi College, Mahe. Later, Kodiyeri joined the University College in Thiruvananthapuram for degree. Vijayakumar was his super-senior there and it was around this time their camaraderie developed.
Vijayakumar also was later arrested during the emergency along with several other left leaders. On being released from prison, they formed a collective called ‘Victims of emergency’, which is still active and conducts programmes unmasking the hardships that the democracy had endured during that grim period. He added that Thiruvananthapuram brought the best out of Kodiyeri as a political organiser. “His bond with the capital city spanned for about five decades. Thiruvananthapuram witnessed the peak of his political career being a dedicated party man,” he said.