The spat between Kerala Assembly Deputy Speaker Chittayam Gopakaumar and Health Minister Veena George appears to have intensified, as on Tuesday, the former failed to turn up at a crucial event to mark the second Pinarayi Vijayan government’s first anniversary in their home district Pathanamthitta.
On Tuesday morning, the CPI district level meeting held decided to back Gopakumar to the hilt, giving enough indications that the CPI is not going to succumb to big brother CPI-M, the party of George.
Asked by media at the event about their spat, George, a former journalist, brushed aside the questions, saying that she prefers not to speak on it.
On the other hand, Gopakumar, who was to have presided over the meeting, pointed out that he was in the state capital as he had urgent meetings of an Assembly committee and hence, could not take part.
Meanwhile, allegations have started to crop up that George’s husband is interfering in issues and this has upset even a section of the CPI-M in Pathanamthitta.
George, who had just won her second term in the April 2021 polls, is known to be close to Vijayan and he picked her to handle the Health portfolio, dumping K.K. Shailaja, who was the Health Minister in the first Vijayan government (2016-21), surprised many, including the top CPI-M brass.
Ever since George was made the Minister, a section in her party has been against her and with Gopakumar and the entire CPI in the district taking up cudgels, all eyes are on Vijayan on what he intends to do, as his first warning to the warring duo, appears to have not been heeded.
What’s also turning to be worrisome for Vijayan is that with the crucial by-election at Thrikkakara slated on May 31 and his determintion to win the traditional Congress seat, the Congress-led opposition is all set to expose the “divide” between Gopakumar and George.
The tiff between the two began last week when senior CPI leader Gopakumar had openly told media persons that George was keeping him in the dark and not communicating with him of any developments.
He also complained that George never bothered to pick his calls and that he had stopped approaching her even for issues related to his constituency.
He alleged that he was not even called for the preliminary meetings for the first anniversary celebrations of the Vijayan government.
Then, George said that anyone was welcome to check her phone records and that the allegations were baseless.
For a while, the relations between the two Communists parties in Pathanamthitta were blowing hot and cold as the CPI-M’s youth wing, the Democratic Youth Federation of India had physically assaulted CPI leaders in the Adoor area a few months back, injuring many local leaders grievously.