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Monday, May 23, 2022

Present even when absent: The Super CM Vijayan

The 76-year-old leader has let it be known that he will attend the crucial meetings, including Cabinet meetings, online from the US, until he returns on January 29.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: January 19, 2022 4:53:55 pm
Pinarayi Vijayan has let it be known that he will attend the crucial meetings online from the US | File

Underlining once again Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s preeminence in the LDF government in Kerala, no leader has been named to hold the charge as he left for the US last week for medical treatment. Vijayan will be away for at least two weeks.

The 76-year-old leader has let it be known that he will attend the crucial meetings, including Cabinet meetings, online from the US, until he returns on January 29.

The Opposition has attacked this vacuum at the top as Kerala battles the third wave of the Covid pandemic, the severest in terms of positivity rate. The Congress has accused Vijayan of leaving the state rudderless.

During his last tenure as CM too, Vijayan had not handed over charge when he went overseas for treatment in September 2018, a month after Kerala was hit by devastating floods.

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However, the responsibility of presiding over weekly Cabinet meetings at the time was given to senior minister E P Jayarajan, a member of the CPM central committee. This time, Vijayan has not handed over that role either to anyone in the Cabinet.

Senior CPM leader M V Jayarajan said there was nothing wrong or unusual in it. “This is an online era and the CM can access any file from anywhere. The Opposition does not want to see the CM getting good treatment,” he said.

Seven months into his second consecutive term, Vijayan remains the unquestionable leader of the party as well as government, its only face and voice. The party had fought the 2021 Assembly elections in his name, projecting him as a “Captain” who had steered the state through “choppy waters” of the floods and the pandemic. The unprecedented back-to-back win since has only raised his stature further.

Plus, with leaders with more than one term in government left out of ministry this time, in line with a long-forgotten CPM clause that Vijayan insisted upon, he has few equals in the Cabinet.

Recently, the Home Department, which is led by Vijayan, faced several controversies, including charges of inaction over dowry deaths, links of top officials with fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, and allegations of police atrocities. Hearing one such atrocity case, Kerala High Court Judge Devan Ramachandran said on November 26: “May God save the state.” While officials have been ticked off over these lapses, Vijayan has escaped any taint.

Last week, in another sign of how the party now revolves around Vijayan, a district conference of the CPM held in Thiruvananthapuram saw a mega thiruvathira dance with lyrics showering praise on the CM. In the thiruvathira, performed by 550 women, Vijayan was depicted as the leader responsible for the CPM “shining” across the world. The ongoing district conferences are a precusor to the CPM Congress in April.

The Vijayan cult especially stands out in a party that prides itself as a cadre-based disciplined outfit, where charismatic veteran V S Achuthanandan and senior leader P Jayarajan were brought down when they were seen as growing bigger than the organisation.

At the CPM district conferences, Vijayan has pushed works that he sees as part of his “development agenda”, such as the ambitious semi-high speed rail corridor project. With the project facing protests, the CM has singularly shouldered the task of “enlightening” the public on the matter and mobilising support. He also attended mass contact events in this regard in many districts before he flew to the US.

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