For the Kerala unit of the CPI(M), Alappuzha district is a hugely popular bastion next only to Kannur, but intense factionalism has erupted there forcing the party top brass to depute its secretary to look into it.
The party’s new state secretary M.V. Govindan himself has decided to take up the matter and will arrive in Alappuzha on Monday to set the ‘house’ in order.
Incidentally, Alappuzha is the place from where former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan hails and it is also the district where P.Krishna Pillai, one of the founding leaders of the Communist movement in the state, died while hiding in a hut following a snakebite in 1948.
The Alappuzha district was the centre of attraction when the factional feud between Achuthanandan and the present Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was at its peak in the late nineties and it was the last district where the latter finally managed to wrest control from the former.
After Achuthanandan’s grip loosened, the district came under the control of two former state ministers — Thomas Isaac and G. Sudhakaran, who both had one stint each in the cabinet of Achuthanandan (2006-11) and Vijayan ( 2016-21).
At one point of time, there was intense rivalry between Isaac and Sudhakaran, but after Vijayan decided to further strengthen his grip in the party, he brought in the present State Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian and today in the Alappuzha district, Cherian is the last word.
After Vijayan decided to keep both Sudhakaran and Isaac out from the electoral politics, Cherian is now the strongest leader in the district.
And as things continued to be in a fluid state in the CPI(M) in the district, the situation worsened after a CPI(M) councillor at Alappuzha – A. Shahnawaz was suspended by the district party unit early this month after a lorry carrying banned tobacco products was taken into custody.
The lorry belonged to Shahnawaz and two people who were arrested with the consignment. The two were close associates of the councillor, who first feigned ignorance of the two arrested.
But later pictures of all of them taking part in the recent birthday celebrations of Shahnawaz spilled the beans forcing the party to take action.
The two, who were arrested, were members of the youth wing of the CPI(M). Both were ousted from the party, but the powerful Shahnawaz was only suspended, who is said to be close to Cherian. The latter till recently was the Alappuzha district CPI(M) secretary and this issue saw an unlikely reunion of Isaac and Sudhakaran.
Sudhakaran known for his clean image and no nonsense approach finally opened his mouth and has dropped enough hints that he is not going to be silent. This has made the Cherian camp uneasy.
Sensing that the situation may go out of hand, both Vijayan and Govindan have decided to act.
For Vijayan also this is going to be an acid test as the Congress-led opposition is all set to take on him during the Assembly session which is to resume in the coming days.