Is it ‘VRS’ time for some in Kerala CPI(M)?

Opting for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) from the government service is quite common, but it appears that it is becoming the choice even in politics, especially in the Kerala unit of the CPI(M) as some have done it and others are waiting in line to call it a day from ‘active’ politics.

The first, who did it, was the then sitting two-time legislator from Taliparamba in the CPI(M) bastion, 61-year-old James Mathew. After realising that he will not be considered for a third time, he decided to take a bow from active party politics.

Mathew, who rose from the student political arena of the CPI(M), was a respected politician. Even the opposition camps used to regard him on account of his pleasing manners and his knowledge of things.

Mathew claims he is active, the truth is otherwise, as he is now more interested in farming activities.

The next in line is none other than the present ruling Left Democratic Front convenor and party central committee member E.P. Jayarajan, who was often referred to as the number two in the first Pinarayi Vijayan government (2016-21) by virtue of being the State Industries Minister.

Jayarajan, who after being kept out for the 2021 Assembly polls, was hoping for an entry into the politburo of the party, if not the state secretary of the party.

Hopes for Jayarajan got high after knowing that the health condition of the sitting secretary of the party Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was getting worse.

But, he got the first shock when his junior party colleague and sitting State Minister M.V. Govindan was made the secretary and was also given the politburo membership.

Jayarajan, 72, also hailing from Kannur appeared miffed at being ignored and tongues started wagging that he was bidding goodbye from active politics. This notion increased when he failed to turn up at the massive protests against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. Though Jayarajan tried to portray that all was well and he had no grievances, things were otherwise with him.

Another leader, Suresh Kurup, 66 who is four-time Lok Sabha member and two-time legislator, is also bidding goodbye to active party politics.

Kurup hails from Kottayam and is known for his affable nature and well-mannered behaviour. He was deeply peeved when he failed to get a cabinet minister post in the first Vijayan government and curtains came down when he was not allowed to complete a hat-trick of wins from the Ettumanoor Assembly constituency in Kottayam district.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said the common factor in what has happened to these three veterans is they for some reason do not appear in the good books of Vijayan.

“Who doesn’t know that Vijayan ever since becoming the chief minister in 2016 is the last word in the party and only what he thinks will happen in the party. These are all small surprises and the big one is expected to come shortly when he in all likelihood will make his son-in-law State Tourism and PWD Minister P.A. Mohammed Riyas as his successor,” said the critic, who did not wish to be identified.

How Vijayan is able to fast track his son-in-law’s rise unlike Rahul Gandhi in the Congress party, is mainly due to the fact that he has become the last word in the CPI(M). Despite coming under duress on numerous occasions, till date there has not been even a murmur against the way he runs the government or the party.

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