Pinarayi Vijayan, the communist party’s pragmatist
Pinarayi Vijayan, the CPI(M) strong man in Kerala has a unique achievement. In its five decade history Pinarayi is the only leader who lead the state unit of the CPI(M) for more than a decade. He lead the CPI(M) for 17 years from the front. This essentially signifies one thing, more than anything he is an organisational man. Who thinks organisation and its structure is of more importance than anything else. Some say Vijayan considers organisation more important than even political ideology.
A man of few words, Pinarayi Vijayan, has made a mark in Kerala politics with his no nonsense approaches and unique style of functioning. When he is going to take oath as the chief minister, Pinarayi rekindles hopes among a large section of the people cutting across political and ideological divide.
Hailing from Pinaryai near Parappram, the place where the communist party held its first conference in the late 1930s, Pinarayi Vijayan became active in communist movement during his student days in Government. Brennen College, Thalassery. He was the state president of the Kerala Students Federation (KSF), the earlier avataar of Students Federation of India (SFI).
During the emergency Pinarayi who was an MLA at that time was tortured brutally by the police. It was time when CPI(M) was fighting the emergency while the CPI and Congress were ruling Kerala.
After he was released Pinarayi came to assembly with blood soaked shirt to show the atrocity he was subjected to by the police. This created huge political controversy. But it also helped to highlight the extent of police brutality that prevailed during the emergency days in Kerala.
Pinarayi’s organisational acumen came into play when he was made the district secretary of the CPI(M) in party citadel Kannur. It was a time when firebrand leader MV Raghavan was expelled after he piloted an alternative political resolution against the leadership’s policy.
MV Raghavan formed another political party- the CMP-, and many party sympathisers were publicly showing allegiance towards him. This put CPI(M) under tremendous pressure. Pinarayi as the leader used all the means that he could employ and saw that the party did not suffer much because of M V Raghavan’s revolt.
Pinaryai became the minister in E.K. Nayanar’s cabinet in 1996 for a brief period of two years. He stepped down when he was made the state secretary of the CPI(M) in 1998. The two years term as minister for power made a huge impact in Pinarayi’s political life. Many lauded his commendable work in executing projects in the power starved state. But it was during this period he got embroiled in a corruption scandal called SNC Lavalin case.
He was made an accused in the case after a CBI inquiry. The case was used by his opponents within and outside the party on various occasions. The CBI court dismissed the charge sheet two years back, enabling Pinarayi to re-enter parliamentary politics.
When he was the secretary, the CPI(M) encountered many organisational challenges. The inner party conflicts scaled new heights during his tenure. The central committee was forced to intervene because of the fratricidal war between Pinarayi and V S Achutanandan, a founder member of the CPI(M). At the height of this, the party suspended both Pinarayi and VS from the politburo. But Vijayan taken back into the PB after some time.
Pinarayi and his faction tried desperately to block Achuthanandan from becoming the the chief minister in 2006. But their efforts failed because of the huge public outcry against them.
Pinarayi who is considered as a pragmatic, is the second generation leader of the CPI(M). While he is hailed by admirers as the communist for the modern times who is driven by practical consideration and ideology, he is derided by many others for his what they call ‘non- communist ‘style of functioning. They say, in the name of pragmatism he is aligning with class enemies and this has affected the ideological orientation of the party. His supporters however pooh poohs this charge.
Pinarayi is often criticised for his autocratic style of functioning. But all said and done he is revered by majority of the party workers as the leader who would take their movement forward in any time of crisis.
Caught between conflicting perceptions, people in general and party members have about him, the question that arises at this crucial time, is when will the real Pinarayi Vijayan stand up?