With the latest controversies surrounding Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his office, the CPI (M) central leadership is having trouble backing him. Very recently, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had criticised the Vigilance department under the Home Ministry — headed by Pinarayi — for raiding KSFE offices in the state. The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had reported anomalies in the functioning and Thomas had retorted that the financial enterprise has its legal department for interpreting the laws and doesn’t need Vigilance to do that.
This has called into question the latest events that have forced the party leadership to take a stand against the CM. The Kerala government had very recently passed an ordinance adding a new amendment to the Kerala Police Act, which experts described as draconian. While Pinarayi had explained that the amendment aimed at protecting women and children in the cyberspace, the actual wording in the ordinance meant that the state would have enough power to censure and crackdown on critics. As the criticisms mounted, the party withdrew the amendment as soon as possible. However, this was not before some top-level members had turned against it.
CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had told media persons that the ordinance will be reconsidered. Meanwhile, the party’s acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan had cited lapses in drafting the amendment. While politburo member MA Baby had said, “Bringing in an amendment that can invite criticism was itself a lapse.” With this, the tone of the party leadership to Pinarayi Vijayan has changed. Until now, the party had strongly defended Pinarayi when the central agencies had arrived in Kerala to investigate the various scams. Even as the CM had allowed that to happen, the party leadership had described the central agencies move as “part of a conspiracy” to discredit the current government.
Even when CPI and other smaller parties had raised their criticism against Pinarayi and his police excessively using UAPA as a means to thwart dissents, CPI (M) was largely silent. However, the latest amendment had created widespread criticism against the party even from within the cadre and that has created a cause for concern. With Thomas Isaac locking horns with the state Home Ministry over the KSFE raid, it is yet to be seen what the future holds, especially with an election around the corner.