Kerala Newsletter by Sanu George in Asian Lie looks into the latest crisis CPI-M is facing in Kerala
It’s been more than a month since the Lok Sabha election results have been out, but one verdict that has ripped the CPI-M in the state has been the shock defeat of one of its tallest leaders – M.A.Baby – from Kollam. Since then, his “baby”-like behaviour has shocked the red party.
Politburo member Baby’s name was the first to be cleared by the party and, given his stature, his victory was a foregone conclusion. However, the joy of a sure victory was cut short when he found that he was pitted against his former cabinet colleague N.K. Premachandran, whose party RSP, a nearly three-decade-long ally of the Left in the state, walked out and joined the Congress-led UDF.
Then began one of the most rhetorical election campaigns the state has witnessed. Premachandran and his RSP had nothing to lose, but for Baby, defeat would mean a loss of face more for himself than the party.
The first signs of Baby staring at defeat came when CPI-M state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan stooped low and called Premachandran a “wretched” character. That appeared to send out enough vibes that Baby was fighting a losing battle.
When the results came, Baby lost not only the Kollam Lok Sabha seat but trailed in his Kundara assembly constituency too. Soon after, he took a decision that shocked and surprised not only his party but many others too by telling the party that he wanted to quit as a legislator because he had lost the confidence of his assembly electorate.
After that, the otherwise polished and sober Baby was visibly disturbed and even went to the extent of stating that one has to be very careful with statements and the use of words. This was an indirect signal to Vijayan that but for his below the belt punch on Premachandran, he would not have had to bite the dust.
The party, at all levels, dismissed Baby’s request and just when many thought that he had slowly mellowed, his absence for more than five days of the fresh assembly session set tongues wagging that Baby was out to teach a lesson to those responsible for his defeat.
And when TV channels made Baby’s absence from the assembly the biggest issue in the state, the party bosses got into the act and are understood to have directed Baby to make his presence in the house. On Monday, he made a quiet entry but did not sign the attendance register – indicating he was still smarting.
While Vijayan has time and again maintained that his statement was appropriate because Premachandran deserved that for his volte face and even maintained that the defeat of his politburo colleague was not because of his one-liner, Baby took solace from the fact that CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat had agreed to discuss the issue.
With feathers ruffled and the CPI-M already divided between Vijayan and the 90-year-old V.S. Achuthanandan, the demand for a thorough introspection by the party appears to have given Baby much-needed relief. Now, all eyes are on the CPI-M’s week-long meetings here from Friday that would be attended by, among others, Karat and senior politburo member S. Ramachandran Pillai. The outcome will hopefully bring Baby out of his “baby” mode.