A CPI (M) worker paints a wall to campaign for LDF candidate ahead of assembly elections in Kozhikode. (File photo)
A CPI (M) worker paints a wall to campaign for LDF candidate ahead of assembly elections in Kozhikode. (File photo)

Kerala assembly polls: Dissent brews within CPI(M) over ticket distribution

Poster war and public display of anger by disgruntled leaders forced the party to change some of the probable candidates for April 6 assembly elections, delaying the final list
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 04:17 PM IST

Dissent is brewing within the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala over the candidate selection process and denial of tickets to those legislators who completed two consecutive terms in the assembly.

Poster war and public display of anger by disgruntled leaders forced the party to change some of the probable candidates for April 6 assembly elections, delaying the final list. Party insiders said such public display of anger, which was was quite new in the party, reminded them of the bitter feud between senior leader V S Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan, then party secretary, a decade ago.

The reported denial of seats to two senior leaders _ finance minister Thomas Issac and public works minister G Sudhakaran _ triggered protests in Alapuzha. Party workers put up posters at many places to vent their anger. As protests escalated Issac had to intervene with a Facebook post. “I became a candidate and minister as per the party’s decision and will obey further decisions too. Party workers should not engage in anti-party campaigns based on hearsay. I warn those people against using my name for such campaigns,” he wrote, warning the dissenters.

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Earlier, there was a controversy over the candidature of culture minister A K Balan’s wife, Dr P K Jameela. The party suggested her name from Tharoor reserved constituency in Palakkad but the party district committee later decided against it amid protests. Posters were pasted outside the minister’s house in Palakkad, questioning his wife’s candidature. Balan said those behind the posters were “descendents of darkness”. Now, P P Sumod is likely to be the party candidate from Tharoor. Protests have also been reported over the plan to field party’s acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan’s wife R Bindhu from Thrissur.

Similarly in north Kerala’s Kannur, denial of seat to party veteran P Jayarajan triggered loud protests. A collective called ‘PJ Army’ took to the social media, even blaming chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan for denying the seat to Jayarajan. Jayarajan disowned the group floated in his name, saying he was not part of it, and the party expelled its leader N Dheeraj Kumar.

Political observers said such open display of anger was quite unheard of in the party and it will leave its impact in the poll. “It shows that all’s not rosy behind iron curtains,” said John Mary, senior journalist and political analyst. A senior party leader, who did not want to be named, admitted that what is happening within the party was just a reflection of the society.

Meanwhile, state Congress leaders left for Delhi with the list of candidates. There are reports that party high command expressed serious reservations over the jumbo list ranging from two to five names for each seat. The party is likely to contest in 92 seats this time (140 seats in total). There is also a confusion over fielding state party chief Mullapally Ramachandran. This time, the party had made it clear that winnability should be the sole criteria, and not faction allegiance.

The Kerala state assembly elections in 14 districts consisting of 140 assembly constituencies will be held in a single phase on April 6. Counting of votes will be held on May 2.The CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front is pitted against the Congress-United Democratic Front coalition and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming assembly elections.

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