The unexpected resignation of Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel, often known as the blue eyed boy of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan shows that all’s not well in the CPI-M in Kerala.
Jaleel, though not a CPI-M card holder, right from the time he turned giant killer by outsmarting the top Indian Union Muslim League leader and former Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty in 2006, has become very close to the Chief Minister and it became stronger when Vijayan decided to include Jaleel when he undertook the state-wide rally just before the 2016 assembly elections.
When Vijayan decided to sit down to select his cabinet, Jaleel’s inclusion did not surprise many and all through when Jaleel had courted trouble on a few occasions, Vijayan stood by him as a rock and it’s this which sent tongues wagging – why is Vijayan protecting Jaleel?
But things appeared to change after the Lok Ayukta on Friday had said that Jaleel has no moral right to continue in office as he has misused his powers and indulged in nepotism (when he posted his relative to a state government post on deputation) and asked Vijayan to take appropriate action against him.
As soon as the observation came, senior leaders like M.A. Baby and E.P. Jayarajan expressed their displeasure, after it was found that Jaleel has no intention to quit, but many were surprised, when the State Law Minister A.K. Balan came out strongly in support of Jaleel and said there was no need for him to quit.
While the Congress top brass went hammer and tongs against the moral high ground stand that the CPI-M asks, when any of the Opposition leaders end up the way Jaleel did with an adverse remark, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan came down hard and said Vijayan is scared of Jaleel, as they are partners in all sorts of shady dealings and hence will not ask him to quit.
But, on Monday, there was total disarray in the CPI-M top brass, when barring Balan, many others felt that Vijayan when he asked his then closest confidant E.P. Jayarajan and two other State Ministers — A.K. Saseendran of the NCP and his party colleague Thomas Chandy to demit office following allegations, Jaleel was not asked to go.
By Monday evening, Vijayan sensing that a section of his party colleagues expressed their displeasure on the importance being given to Jaleel, felt that it was better to ask Jaleel to quit and send the word through former CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and on Tuesday morning Jaleel handed over his resignation, which was quickly forwarded to the office of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.
And to give Jaleel an honourable exit, soon after his resignation surfaced, leaders like Baby and the acting party secretary A. Vijayaraghavan said Jaleel has resigned on his own keeping in tune with the high moral ground that the CPI-M takes on such issues.
But quick to latch on was Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who said all the talk of high moral ground of the CPI-M is humbug.
“Jaleel had no other way but to quit as his act of nepotism was caught red handed. If it was the position of high moral ground, then why did he approach the High Court to stay the Lok Ayukta directive?” asked Chennithala.
Muraleedharan went a step forward and said Vijayan also is equally responsible in the act of nepotism which was done by Jaleel, as he knew that it was a clear cut violation of all norms.
Jaleel informed about his resignation on Facebook saying those who were after his blood can be happy for a while as he has tendered his resignation to the Chief Minister.
With daggers now out in the open in the CPI-M and more number of disgruntled top brass which includes, E.P. Jayarajan, Thomas Issac, G. Sudhakaran – all Ministers but failed to get a seat to contest, then comes politburo member M.A. Baby, former legislator and one of the most popular party leader in Kannur- P. Jayarajan, May 2 is going to be very crucial not just for the CPI-M but for Vijayan too.
If Vijayan fails to retain power, it could well be a shocker for him as the number of disgruntled leaders could well strike back hard, and should he retain power, the pack of disgruntled leaders could well be blown away.