It is intense power struggle in Kannur CPM, the party bastion with its umpteen 'party villages'. When the CPM had been plagued by factionalism a few years ago, Kannur remained insulated, thanks to Pinarayi Vijayan, the three Jayarajans and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. A new group, a strong group appears to be emerging without the powerful P Jayarajan.
It was the power of the might of these leaders that kept the other faction led by veteran VS Achuthanandan at bay. But things have, like elsewhere for the party, started crumbling and the recent move within the party leadership to protect Anthoor municipal chairperson PK Shyamala in the suicide of an expat entrepreneur, who literally ran from pillar to post for the building licence for his Rs 15-crore Parthas Convention Centre, is a clear example of this growing schism. Shyamala is the wife of party central committee member MV Govindan, a new face in Kannur's party power struggle.
After the late MV Raghavan who lorded over the party till he moved to the UDF forming the CMP, it has been P Jayarajan ruling the party in Kannur, the killing fields of the CPM-RSS violence. That explains why he turned to be a much-hated person accused by various Opposition parties of fomenting political violence. Party insiders admit that he is still the most popular leader of CPM in Kannur like MVR was once.
But when P Jayarajan started growing in stature, much to the discomfort of the party leadership that is still controlled by the Kannur 'lobby', (after Pinarayi took over as Chief Minister, the state secretary post was naturally given to Kodiyeri), there were moves to 'cut him to size' (he has already been a victim of violence with his thumb chopped off by RSS activists over two decades ago, leaving his right hand nearly immobilised).
It is well explained when he was made the party candidate from Vadagara as he was immediately removed from the district secretary post to be replaced by MV Jayarajan who till then was the Chief Minister's political secretary. Party insiders point to the double standards as Kottayam district secretary Vasavan was also made a candidate in Kottayam and allowed to retain the secretary post even during campaign.
They say that Vadagara was never a 'safe' seat, represented by KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran. In the new group equation, Jayarajan was made a victim and his defeat, a foregone conclusion that would ensure that he was 'taught a lesson'.
Again, in the recent suicide of expat entrepreneur Sajan Parayil, the role of Jayarajan supporting the businessman's cause is said to have led to such an extreme step. Jayarajan had taken up the cause of Sajan with the municipal chairperson. She, according to the entrepreneur's widow, is said to have been peeved by the role of Jayarajan. And she is said to have told Sajan that she would want to know how he would get the certificate for his building when she was "sitting in the chair of Anthoor municipal corporation as chairperson". A section in the party points to the haste in which clearance was given by the same municipal authorities for a resort being built after razing to the ground a hillock where Industries Minister EP Jayarajan's son has a share.
It is a fact that it was not just one instance where a municipal official raised objection to issuing the certificate. It was a long-drawn battle and if the chairperson had intervened, Sajan would not have been driven to commit suicide, admit even partymen in Kannur, like most people in Kerala.
Even after the Taliparamba area committee of the party found Shyamala 'guilty' and sought her resignation, the district committee under the control of the anti-Jayarajan faction did not accept her resignation and allowed her to continue in office and instead said officials were guilty. Much before Local Self Government Minister AC Moideen announced the suspension of four municipal officials, Kannur party secretary MV Jayarajan told the media that three officials, including the municipal secretary, had been suspended. This embarrassed Moideen though, but the Government acts on the decision of the Kannur party leadership.
That also explains why during a discussion on the issue, Pinarayi said that P Jayarajan should not be used to raise the issue and hurl charges at the CPM. Pinarayi also took strong objection to dragging in Govindan's name just because his wife was the municipal chairperson.Jayarajan had said he would reveal everything about the suicide issue at a public meeting where he indirectly put the blame on Shyamala.
He embarrassed the party by being the first to visit Sajan's house after the suicide and even paid a visit to the hospital to meet COT Naseer, the CPM rebel and Independent candidate who was brutally attacked, allegedly by CPM activists. In this case, inquiry may even see Thalassery legislator AN Shamsheer face the music.
Things do not augur well for P Jayarajan and the party in Kannur. None denies an element of truth when Muslim League legislator KM Shaji said in the Assembly: "Whether you are close to P Jayarajan or against him, you are inviting trouble and risking your life in Kannur."
As a senior CPM leader admitted, there was a time when one could never think of the CPM in Kannur without MV Raghavan. But the party 'handled' him and so will be the case of P Jayarajan.