First-ever ‘Pinarayi Vijayan audit’ marks CPM’s new style

Soon after the LS poll verdict was out, a few leaders had made an open appeal for urgent course correction.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.(File photo)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was the fag end of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government. The CM’s office was facing serious charges related to gold smuggling. The CPM was about to hold its state committee.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
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A veteran leader, who’s no longer active in leadership, was under tremendous pressure to urge the central leadership to intervene. He refused, as he felt he would be isolated within the party, a fear not without grounds.

Nearly five years down the lane, the just-concluded state committee meet that reviewed the 2024 LS poll outcome, witnessed severe criticism against Pinarayi, an unprecedented and rare phenomenon in the party since he took over as the CPM state secretary in 1998. Pinarayi has never had to face any flak from within, except from his bête noire VS Achuthanandan.

This time, at least 4-5 leaders attending the meeting directly attacked the CM for his style of functioning and autocratic approach that alienated people. Pinarayi chose not to respond, yet another first in the party.

Briefing the media, CPM state secretary M V Govindan, while maintaining an eerie silence over the severe flak Pinarayi faced, said the party will set priorities for the government - an indirect admission of how the government had got its priorities all wrong, resulting in LDF’s poll debacle.

In what appears to be another first, the party is showing some semblance of control over the government and its captain. In many ways, the first-ever ‘Pinarayi’ audit by the party could mark the beginning of a new era in CPM.

Soon after taking up the state secretary’s role, Govindan attempted to exercise some control over the government, but it didn’t prove too effective. Pinarayi remained the unquestionable leader of both the CPM and the Left government.

During his first term, Pinarayi drew flak at many CPI meets, even being termed “dhoti-clad Modi”. However, it’s the first time the CPM has taken it up in such a public manner. ‘CM and his 19 shadows’ was how one of the leaders described Pinarayi and his cabinet at the CPM meet.

“It’s true there was some reluctance to point fingers at Pinarayi at one point in time. However, it needs to be done at some point or other. Criticism and self-criticism are a routine affair for communist parties. It’s not a personal attack per se,” explained a senior leader.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
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Soon after the LS poll verdict was out, a few leaders had made an open appeal for urgent course correction. Just before the state committee meeting, a senior leader had openly demanded corrective measures in the party.

If sources are to be believed, this was done keeping the politburo in the loop. It’s in this backdrop that many within the CPM feel the party will have more control over the state government in future.

Marxist observer Appukkuttan Vallikunnu says there won’t be any drastic course correction. However, he feels the new developments will be reflected at the ground level.

“Calling a party plenum to discuss the issues would be an earnest step towards correction,” he said.

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