With the final list of Kerala CPM candidates out, party still faces flak from local area members

On the other hand, Kunhammed claims to stand with the state leadership’s decision and he rejected the rebel voices within the party while TM Sidheek came out in support of P Nandakumar
With the final list of Kerala CPM candidates out, party still faces flak from local area members

At today’s press conference, CPI (M) acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan had said that to accommodate new partners into the alliance, “sacrifices had to be made and everyone in the alliance made them”. The party members however seemed to disagree with the notion evident from the protests that erupted in Ponani, Kuttiadi, Manjeshwaram and many others.

The implosion within CPI (M), over the announcement of candidates for the Assembly polls, seems to have grown in the last few days. The local area members of Kuttiadi have all but decided to field an area committee member as a rebel candidate against the CPM’s alliance partner Kerala Congress (M). Before the CPM’s state committee decided on the seat, the local area members and leaders had believed Kunhammed to be the likely candidate and had even started the campaigning. However, the party surprised everyone by surrendering the seat to Jose K Mani’s party.

The Kuttiadi members had asked the state leadership what background KC (M) had in Kuttiadi and questioned the decision on fielding an external member in a sure-win seat in the North. The local members had challenged the decision at every level and organised a protest march after the state committee refused to listen to them. Moreover, they also wrote a letter to the central leadership hoping that they would change the state decision. The Kuttiadi members were hoping to repeat the Koyilandi incident when the party had decided to field an Indian National League candidate. The Kuttiadi members had sent a letter to the central leadership thus reversing the decision.

However, the state leadership has not changed their stance, and that has been the same for Ponani as well. The local members of the Ponani division organised a protest march on Monday in support of area committee leader and district member TM Sidheek after he was ignored for P Nandakumar to fill the spot at Ponani. Hundreds of people including women participated in the protest chanting slogans against Nandakumar, demanding Sidheek’s candidature.

During the early stages of the discussion, the local area members kept recommending Sidheek’s name to be added to the fray after Sreeramakrishnan was dropped. This was repeated in the area committee meetings and district meetings. However, the state leadership decided on Nandakumar despite the opposition. While the leadership was aware of the protest from the local leaders, the march has shaken the party to the core. Especially since it happened parallel to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s public programme at Pinarayi.

After Paloli Mohammed Kutty of CPM stepped down, the state leadership had brought Sreeramakrishnan from Perinthalmanna to contest at Ponani. This was despite Siddique’s name being the loudest in the meetings. The local area members are complaining that despite getting another chance after 10 years, the state leadership is dropping a hard-working cadre to field someone who is not from the area.

The problem is that with the state leadership going against the local demands, it might affect the cadre's strength when it comes to campaigning and support. If the committee members decide on standing a rebel candidate, it could affect the victory chances or at least the vote share in seats that could have been otherwise easily won. On the other hand, Kunhammed claims to stand with the state leadership’s decision and he rejected the rebel voices within the party. Similarly, TM Sidheek also came out in support of P Nandakumar, adding that the latter is a veteran politician and only the CPM can field a labour activist in the elections. “It is saddening to know about the communalisation of the protest by party activists in Ponani following the media coverage. However, it is important that we fight such communalisation,” he added.

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