The story behind CPI (M)’s crisis in Kayamkulam

Kayamkulam Assembly Constituency, at the southern tip of the Coastal district of Alappuzha sharing borders of the Kollam district, did not regularly make political headlines till 2016. The Constituency, always loyal to the alternating ruling fronts – the UDF and the LDF – in Kerala, changed its mind in 2011 when C K Sadasivan, the staunch V S Achuthanadan ally from the Kuttanad, retained his seat.

But factional equations ensured that Sadasivan was denied a chance to score a hat trick in 2016.  The CPI (M) District Committee guided by strongman G Sudhakaran was behind it, with the blessings of Pinarayi Vijayan. Sadasivan was an eyesore to Pinarayi Vijayan for long as he had single-handedly challenged the decisions of the latter in the CPI (M) State Committee on many occasions.

All that is history now.

The rumblings in the CPI (M) in Kayamkulam today is on account of the growing discontent between MLA U Prathibha and the district leadership led by Sudhakaran. In 2016, Sudhakaran had originally proposed the name of Rajani Jayadev, the president of Bharanikavu Block Panchayat, hailing from his ancestral place in Karimulackal near Charummood in the district, as party candidate for Kaymakulam. But the State Committee ultimately ruled in favour of the young and charming U Prathibha, in a setback to the Sudhakaran coterie.

A former president of Thakazhi Grama Panchayat, Prathibha had just completed her five-year tenure as district Panchayat President in 2016 and she went on to win the election by defeating Congress leader M Liju by an impressive margin of 11857 votes. Since then, she has had a strained relationship with the CPI (M) district leadership dominated by Sudhakaran loyalists, moving from one controversy to the next.

The latest is the resignation of 19 members of the 21-member Block Committee of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in Kayamkulam, dominated by Sudhakaran loyalists. Things came to a head when Kayamkulam Circle Inspector of Police (CI), Gopakumar, barged into the house of DYFI Block Vice-President Sajid, wielding a service revolver. According to the police, Sajid is an accused in an ‘attempt to murder’ case.

In the resignation letter, the members accused Vidyasagar, the office secretary of the MLA, of colluding with the police for the action against their leader. The letter stated that the party had “failed to act” against the Kayamkulam circle inspector.

The spark for the tussle between the DYFI and the Inspector was kindled earlier in March, when a police team led by the CI fined CPI (M) leader and Kayamkulam Municipal chairman (and Sudhakaran confidante) N Sivadasan for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.

In retaliation, the municipal administration rejected permission for a police canteen. Prathibha, however, criticised the move. Following that, last month, a few DYFI workers in the constituency took a public stance against the MLA alleging that she was not active as a public representative while dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. She, however, shot back with a short video in which she was seen saying that “some human viruses were more dangerous than corona virus”.

Meanwhile, DYFI district secretary R Rahul claimed that he had not received any resignation letter from DYFI members in Kayamkulam. CPI (M) district secretary R Nazer has asked the DYFI District Committee to look into the matter. Perhaps, this controversy will soon die down. But it’s only a matter of time before another issue crops up in Kayamkulam.

Cover Image: U Prathibha

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