All eyes on Kodiyeri ahead of party congress

Debate over whether he will get to lead the CPI(M) in State for a third term

The speculated return of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as the State secretary of the CPI(M), a year after his son’s custody on the charge of involvement in a narcotics case, has assumed significance even as the party is gearing up for the 23rd Party Congress in Kannur in April next year.

The possibility of his continuance in the post for a third term, however, appeared to be uncertain although the 20th Party Congress held in Kozhikode had fixed the tenure of all secretaries at all levels to three terms. Incidentally, the State conference will be held in Ernakulam in February.

Two issues

Party sources said that there are at least two issues at play here. One is his physical fitness although Mr. Balakrishnan has regained health after a prolonged treatment. He had taken a one-year leave from the party on medical grounds.

Another issue is the disadvantageous circumstances in which the party got a bad press after his son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested last year and his elder son Binoy Kodiyeri faced charges in an alleged rape case in Mumbai earlier.

However, a section within the party strongly feels that Mr. Balakrishnan, who turns 68 next week, should return to the key post when the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is in power for the second consecutive term.

Also, the ceiling proposal to fix the retirement age of all party members at 75 will not be applicable to him.

In sync with Pinarayi

A major premise, sources said, is that Mr. Balakrishnan, a Polit Bureau member, enjoys a perfect sync with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unlike when V.S. Achuthanandan was the Chief Minister during 2006-11 and Mr. Vijayan was the State secretary.

Besides, Mr. Balakrishnan may not be concerned about any factionalism like Mr. Vijayan during his tenure as the longest-serving secretary of the Kerala unit from 1998 to 2015. The latter laid the groundwork and successfully decimated what was known as the “Achuthanandan faction”.

Also, the Kodiyeri-Pinarayi equation will continue its hegemony at the Ernakulam conference and ensure that the combination works out well at the forthcoming party congress in Kannur.

Rapport outside party

That said, it has to be admitted that the affable Mr. Balakrishnan, though not a typical political strategist, has been able to establish a good rapport with leaders of other political parties and mutual understanding with various social and religious pressure groups.

In a default condition, the CPI (M) will then have to weigh its options on choosing a new State secretary and the party has no dearth of able leaders to toe the Pinarayi line at least for the next Party Congress.

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