Will Pinarayi be able to stamp his 'continued' authority at CPI-M state party conference?

As things stand, there appears no doubt about it, as he always has the last word not just in governance, but also in the party
Last Updated 25 February 2022, 09:59 IST

With the CPI-M state party conference set to kick-off from March 1 in Kochi, the political circles are abuzz with conversations about whether Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan be able to stamp his continued authority in the party.

As things stand, there appears no doubt about it, as he always has the last word not just in governance, but also in the party, contrary to his predecessors who played "second fiddle" to the party's state secretary.

A media critic, on condition of anonymity, said the only reason why Vijayan, ever since he took over as chief minister in 2016, has the last and final word is because of the way he ran the party as its state secretary from 1998 to 2014 and holds the record of having sat on the chair for the longest period.

"It was his 16-year tenure as state secretary, which gave him the absolute confidence he displays now, that he is not just the final word in Kerala, but also at the national level. During the period he kept a close watch on all the leaders and handpicked leaders of his choice. He showed it again when the party prevented stalwarts like Thomas Isaac, G.Sudhakaran, A.K.Balan from contesting in the 2021 Assembly polls. The biggest surprise came when he decided not to give a second term to popular Health Minister K.K.Shailaja. There was not even a slightest of noise from any quarters," said the critic.

When Vijayan decided to move out as state secretary in 2014, he made sure that the wings of the Achuthanandan faction in the party were clipped forever.

"In the run-up to the 2016 Assembly polls, there were more posters of Achuthanandan than Vijayan portraying the former as the team leader. But it ended the day votes were counted and when the CPI(M)-led Left had an easy victory, in came Vijayan and then, as they say, there was no looking back for him," added the critic.

One big advantage that Vijayan has is the party's second-in-command Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who was the Home Minister in the Achuthanandan cabinet 2006-11 but does not appear to be in a mood to move up the ladder. In all likelihood, he will be getting his third and final term as the state secretary, he said.

Unlike the factional feud between Achuthanandan and Vijayan when the former was active, there are none at the moment who dare to oppose him and hence the four-day event at Kochi would go the way he wants.

With ageing leaders like Vaikom Viswan, Anathalavattom Anandan and K.P.Karunakaran in the state secretariat, it remains to be seen if they will be replaced.

Hence the only thing that will be of any significance is whether there be new faces in the 21-member state secretariat, the 88-member state committee and not to mention to decide the party's Kerala contingent to the Party Congress to be held at Vijayan's home turf Kannur in April.

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(Published 25 February 2022, 09:59 IST)

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