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At front line of Kerala’s Cong-CPM clashes, bitter rivals ready to roll up their sleeves

The ongoing protests have been marked by sabre-rattling, open threats and provocative sloganeering from camps led by KPCC chief K Sudhakaran and CPM's E P Jayarajan

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvanananthapuram |
Updated: June 17, 2022 8:24:23 am
Congress state president K Sudhakaran and LDF convenor and CPI(M) leader E P Jayarajan. (Twitter: @SudhakaranINC | @EP_Jayarajan)

Workers of the ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress have been on a rampage in many parts of Kerala over the gold smuggling allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The protests have intensified since June 13, when two Youth Congress workers allegedly heckled the Chief Minister in an aircraft, after which Congress offices in several parts of the state were attacked allegedly by CPI(M) workers to retaliate against the alleged “murder attempt on the CM”.

At the front line of this unprecedented showdown that has been marked by sabre-rattling, open threats and provocative sloganeering from both sides are Congress state president K Sudhakaran and LDF convenor and CPI(M) leader E P Jayarajan – bitter rivals, both from Kannur, whose politics is marked by aggression and muscle-flexing.

A video of the June 13 incident shows two Youth Congress workers shouting slogans as they move, apparently towards Vijayan, only to be stopped by Jayarajan, who pushes them hard to the floor. The two Youth Congress workers were later detained and booked for attempt to murder.

Not one to take it lying down, Sudhakaran has led protests across the state demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation. In a departure from the measured tone of his predecessors, Sudhakaran sent out a ringing warning: “Jayarajan, you have trampled on our boys. There’s no doubt that we will be forced to take revenge… You can destroy as many of our (Congress) offices as you want, but we will pull down as many of your offices. We will not hold back.’’

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Sudhakaran’s war cry forced other Congress leaders to step up the rhetoric. Party MP and ex-state president K Muraleedharan said the party will no longer remain silent in the face of the CPI(M)’s attacks.

Ever since Sudhakaran assumed office as Congress state president last year, he has been seeking to build a party cadre on the lines of the CPI(M). Just a year into his post, the 74-year-old has managed to boost the morale of youth workers, many of whom have been itching to square up against CPM workers.

Earlier this year, when a worker of the Students Federation of India, the student wing of the CPI(M), was killed, allegedly by Youth Congress, Sudhakaran did not condemn the murder; instead, he offered legal assistance to the accused.

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Jayarajan, 72, a former minister in the previous Vijayan government, was groomed by the late M V Raghavan, who dominated Marxist politics in Kannur in the 1970s. With the party caught in a violent cycle of one-upmanship with the Sangh Parivar in Kannur, Raghavan wanted someone who spoke the same language as the Sangh, and found his answer in Jayarajan, whom he recruited from his home village, Pappinassery.

However, with the CPM ousting Raghavan in 1986, Jayarajan threw in his lot with the Vijayan camp.

Sudhakaran learnt his ropes from Raghavan, who had by then floated his party, the Communist Marxist Party. The two joined hands to pose a challenge to the CPI(M) in Kannur. They worked together, lending muscle to each other to take on the CPI(M) at a time when political bloodletting was at its peak in Kannur.

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The animosity peaked when, in 1995, Jayarajan, who was travelling home in a train, was shot at while in Andhra Pradesh. While Sudhakaran and Raghavan figured in the FIR, their names were dropped from the chargesheet for want of evidence.

But as the recent events show, the fight between the two is far from over.

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First published on: 16-06-2022 at 05:19:57 pm

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