THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amidst growing protests by the UDF and BJP, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan made it categorically clear that the Left has KT Jaleel's back. "How can action be taken against Jaleel, when he hasn't done anything wrong? In the case of EP Jayarajan, he admitted his mistake and decided to stay away. In Jaleel's case, it is not so,” said Kodiyeri. In an interview with TNIE, Kodiyeri says if the UDF is granted a tenure, it would be under the Muslim League's thumb.
Q: Both the CPM and the Chief Minister have been reiterating that the issue is not about Jaleel, but the Quran. Is the CPM too going in for appeasement politics?
A: Who dragged the Quran into the issue? It wasn't us. It was a League MLA who spoke about the smuggling of the Quran in the Assembly. It was the UDF convener who sent a complaint to the Prime Minister over the distribution of the Quran. It was the Opposition alone which dragged the Quran into the whole controversy.
As far as Communists are concerned, we are not against distributing of any religious texts. Neither the Quran nor the Bible are banned. Anyone can distribute them to believers. Bhagavat Gita is not an RSS holy book. The RSS text is Vichsaradhara; see, I have a copy here that I check at times. That's why when EK Nayanar went to visit Pope John Paul II, he presented him with the Bhagavat Gita. It was a major controversy then. "When I go from India, what else should I give?" is how Nayanar reasoned at the time.
When there was a campaign against the distribution of the Quran, our stance was that not being a banned book, there is nothing wrong with distributing it. Other than that, we are not propagators of any of these books.
Q: Just three months into the Left governance, a minor allegation had cropped up against EP Jayarajan. Despite being a Central Committee member, he was asked to stay away by the party. Is there a partisan approach in the case of Jaleel?
A: Jaleel hasn't done anything wrong. How can action be then taken against him? A senior leader like Jayarajan himself said he would keep away from the cabinet in the wake of allegations, and the party accepted it. Jayarajan hadn't done anything wrong but he felt that allegations of nepotism would affect the party's integrity, and so he did what he did.
In the case of KT Jaleel, there are mere allegations. If we start ousting ministers because of mere allegations, anyone could allege anything. How would the cabinet function then?
Q: Going by what you said, the allegations against EP would have affected the CPM's image. Isn't the same argument applicable here?
A: What's the logic in propagating made-up stories? If there are any facts, we would naturally intervene. The party indulges in constant rectification, for which we are constantly made fun of. We make a mistake and when we become aware of it, we readily rectify it. We have been doing this since the time of Lenin. If we have erred, we would be the first ones to admit it.
In the case of Jayarajan, he himself admitted that it was something he shouldn't have done. He admitted his mistake and decided to stay away. In Jaleel's case, it is not so. This is more of political agitation, and we shall take it on politically. We were brought to power by the masses. Till the time we enjoy their support, we shall continue in power. We shall neither bow down before intimidation of any sort nor sacrifice anyone.
Q: At the time of the Solar and Bar Bribery scams, the LDF had kept on harping to the UDF that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion". Does it not apply to Jaleel?
A: It was the High Court that referred to Caesar's wife, not the then Opposition. KM Mani had to quit in that context. Neither are there any such remarks from the judiciary in this case nor has the investigation agency termed Jaleel guilty.
Q: Wasn't there an attempt at cover-up when the minister went for the ED interrogation in a clandestine manner?
A: It was his way of doing it and not a stance is taken after consulting anyone. Had he revealed it beforehand, it would have led to major agitations along the road. It's a wonder that he could reach there without media attention!
Q: Both the CPM and CPI have alleged that the investigations are politically motivated. But the CM reiterates that the investigation is in the right direction. Are the CM and the party on different pages in this regard?
A: In some countries under Communist rule, both the party and the government are the same. Here, the party and the government are not the same. The party has its own stance that it makes public, while the government can function only as per the Constitution. If the Chief Minister criticizes a central government agency, that would give the issue an altogether different dimension.
The state does not oppose investigation by central agencies. It's a fact that central agencies are being used to sabotage state governments. The Gehlot government in Rajasthan and Mamata Government in West Bengal had opposed central probes. We are not opposed to probing by any central agency.
Even in this case, those who sent and received the gold have not been interrogated till now. The UAE Attache has not been questioned. The diplomatic baggage arrived in relation to the UAE consulate. But that too has not been looked into. The probe team too is being changed often. This creates doubts about whether the probe is in the right direction. Whenever the probe points fingers at the BJP, the probe seems hampered.
Q: A major allegation against the Left has always been that the party controls the government. But now, it seems the party has little control over its government.
A: These are just fictitious ramblings. Only policy-related matters are discussed in the party and LDF. Such issues are discussed within the front as well as the CPM. The party does not intervene in routine day-to-day affairs. It was the same when I was holding the Home portfolio. The then party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan never intervened. If the party starts dictating things, it will weaken the administration.
Q: During this government's tenure, would the party intervene if lapses occur?
A: Naturally. The Chief Minister discusses matters with the party during Secretariat meets held every week. At times, the CM consults the party secretary. Unlike the UDF rule when the CM and KPCC chief were on different pages, the party, the front and government are all on the same page. That is crucial for the Left to ensure continuity in governance in the coming polls. Only when there are policy deviations, do the party and the front intervene.
Q: As party secretary, do back-to-back allegations against your children affect the party?
A: In case of made-up allegations, we can't do anything. But if there's some truth in it, the party won't offer them any sort of protection. When the Kiliroor sexual harassment case surfaced, the names of my son Bineesh Kodiyeri and that of MA Baby's son were flaunted. Same with the Kaviyoor harassment case. Both cases were probed by CBI. What happened? The probe revealed no links whatsoever.
Similarly, when Paul Muthoot was murdered, I was the Home Minister. An allegation linked the murder with Bineesh. It was I who forwarded the probe to CBI.
A deliberate campaign is being run by certain sources here. The CPM won't shield any wrongdoer, even if it's my son. If he has erred, let him face action. But it is wrong to create a smokescreen merely to subvert the probe. Is it right to drag families into such issues?
Q: You see this as a deliberate move by the Opposition?
A: Bineesh's name was dragged into the case right at the beginning, a deliberate move by the Opposition. Wasn't it Chennithala who first raised such an allegation? Their move is to mar the integrity of the Chief Minister as well as the party Secretary.
Q: The other day senior leader P Jayarajan stated that the party is not answerable for the wayward behavior of sons of leaders. Does it mean that they have erred in some way?
A: The party won't be answerable, in case they have erred, is what he meant. That is also the party's proclaimed stance as well as mine. If they have done something wrong, let them face it.
Q: Is the government suffering from an image issue due to such allegations?
A: Despite such allegations, we have won several elections. News channel discussions won't have an impact on the common man. If Keralites start going by channel debates, we would have long ceased to exist. Such malicious campaigns will always be there. We still continue to plod along with our own.
Q: Arrests of extremists have increased in recent times. Has it got anything to do with the Left being in power?
A: Kerala is not as affected, compared to other states. With the Left in power, there won't be any fake encounters. Hence many use the state as a hideout. Some Lashkar-e-Taiba activists were arrested the other day. The Maoists consider LeT as anti-imperialist. Hence they favor LeT and want to join hands with such extremist forces. The Congress in Kerala too wants to join hands with all, including extremist forces.
The Muslim League is not reluctant to join hands with Muslim terror groups linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba. In the future, it could lead to direct links with LeT. Such extremist activities won't help democracy. Extremist activities are not a solution to anything. Such ideology has lost its relevance. On one hand, there's the RSS brand of Hindutva. The BJP knows that it can't come to power in Kerala. But if they win more seats, they can make inroads to Kerala politics in the future. Even if the UDF comes to power, the BJP is hopeful of exercising control, using the Centre. On the other, there's Muslim communalism.
The League has taken an initiative to rope in Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI into their front. Now IUML dominates within the UDF. If there's another UDF rule, it will be under IUML's thumb. The League's earlier structure has changed post-Jamaat-e-Islami influence. In this scenario, we need to protect the secular base. The Left is the only hope for religious minorities in the state.
Q: In the Alan, Thwaha issue, wasn't the government showing intolerance?
A: When they indulge in illegal activities, we take action. But at the same time, we did not agree with imposing UAPA and set up a committee for review. That's when NIA took up the investigation. The CPM is of the stance that UAPA should not be imposed on anyone, irrespective of whether they are Left-leaning or not.