While new state Congress chief, K. Sudhakaran has opened up against his old foe, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan now faces an outburst from former CPI-M leader from his home Pinarayi village in Kannur district, Pandayala Shaji, who calls him a “gangster”.
Shaji is son of Pandya Gopalan, the volunteer ‘captain’ of the undivided Communist Party in the state which was formed at Parappuram in Pinarayi village in 1939 in presence of legends like E.M.S. Namboodiripad, A.K. Gopalan, N.E. Balram and P. KrishnaPillai.
Vijayan was the most trusted disciple of Pandyala Gopalan Master but Shaji had differences of opinion with Vijayan and he left the party to join the Communist Marxist Party.
In an interview with IANS, he sought to show how Vijayan had long displayed “dictatorial tendencies” and why he left the party.
A leader of the Student Federation of India (SFI) and one of the party’s foremost orators, Shaji left after he assaulted by alleged CPI-M goons when his father was presiding over a public meeting at Thalassery in which the main speaker was Vijayan.
Following are excepts of the interview.
Q: Your father, late Pandiyala Gopalan Master, was a founder leader of the Communist party in the country and one of the towering leaders of the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) after it was formed in 1964. Why then you are against the party?
A: I cannot tolerate with the dictatorship politics in the CP1-M practiced by Pinarayi Vijayan and I became an eyesore to him after I led a public programme in Thalassery town in which I shouted slogans against Vijayan owing to differences of opinion related to the job of certain private college teachers.
I was with the teachers who were to lose their jobs when the institution where they were teaching was being taken over by an educational cooperative society in Pinarayi town. Vijayan was for expelling the teachers and taking over the institution and starting it afresh. This led to a difference of opinion and it reached the streets wherein I led a procession and shouted slogans against Vijayan. This was one issue Vijayan could not forget as he is a person who will never tolerate criticisms even from the son of his mentor and political leader, Pandiyala Gopalan Master.
Q: You were attacked when your father was presiding over a public programme of the CPI-M in Thalassery. What was the reason for the attack?
A: I was almost killed and am still living with multiple injuries. My hand was broken in four places and my leg was smashed with iron rods and pipes. I left the CPI-M when the party split and the dynamic political leader and another Guru of Pinarayi Vijayan, the late M.V. Raghavan (MVR)formed the Communist Marxist Party (CMP). I joined with MVR and his fledgling political outfit, CMP and we faced violent opposition throughout Kerala with special emphasis in my home district Kannur.
Vijayan was the CPI-M district Secretary in Kannur those days and I was his neighbour. My father was still continuing with the party and one evening while my father was presiding over a public program on February 11, 1992 at Thalassery town, in which Vijayan was the major speaker, I was assaulted by known CPI-M criminals in my home town at around 6.30 pm. Roads on the two sides were blocked by the CPI-M men who has a brutal majority in that town and I was hit. No one dared to touch me and no vehicles were allowed.
Later a group of Congress leaders who had come to know of this came and picked me up and I was admitted at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka. I had to undergo treatment for one year and three months there so that I could stand up… the attack was that brutal and I am still suffering from it. It was totally the handiwork of Pinarayi Vijayan.
Q: Were you an office bearer of CPI-M before you joined CMP?
A: I was the unit secretary of the Student Federation of India, at Thalassery Christ College which had 10,000 students. I was the unit secretary of the largest SFI unit in the state and hence I was close to all the SFI leaders across the state. More than that, I was a party member and SFI district committee member. Later I left the party sacrificing all the benefits that I could have accrued given the proximity our family had with Vijayan. I could not stand the dictatorial trends of Pinarayi Vijayan even during my college days as he would never allow any else to speak against his opinion even within the party. There was no inner-party democracy in the CPI-M and Vijayan is never a communist. For someone to be a communist he should have care and love for others which sadly he does not have.
Q: You have termed Pinarayi Vijayan as a gangster rather than a political leader, why?
A: Everyone in Kannur district knows who Vijayan is. He is thriving on the strength of the party which is carrying on not because of any ideology but due to the capital it has. It has several institutions, huge money, and several assets and hence people get employment, children get jobs, and admission in party-run schools, colleges, and the party have their own cooperative banks. These banks and the lure of jobs are that big, people even though they want to leave the dictatorship will not as everything in one’s life is dependent on the party. Other than the attack on me, Vijayan had planned, conspired, and executed several murders in Kannur district on his political opponents and his tenure as CPI-M Kannur district secretary saw several violent political attacks in Kannur district.