The controversies that surfaced regarding the sons of CPM politburo member and state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, have naturally led to a big political turmoil.
While one of the sons who is now in Dubai faces a travel ban, the other cannot enter Dubai due to a criminal case charged against him. Though the party supporters who appear in television debates related to the matter, put forth all kinds of justifications, there are certain realities which cannot be denied. One of them is that both of them have been involved in police cases. Another is the fact that they have not been accused in these cases due to engaging in any revolutionary acts. The cases are related to financial irregularities that become more complex as they surface. The children of the head of the party that rules the state being in the news in the name of such wrongdoings would surely tarnish the image of the party. It is natural as well that the rival parties would take advantage of it politically. That is, it is pointless to blurt out the theory that the issues were part of a huge conspiracy to destroy the party. The fact is that a party which functions among the people cannot help but undergo such popular trials. The CPM is currently facing that trial.
The CPM is a party which follows a firm stance, though technically, in the case of acquiring wealth and lifestyle. They have always upheld them as their pride. They talk not only about the party members but also about the party ‘family’. They believe that the party cadre is responsible for moulding the ‘family’ according to the party principles. Examining the Kolkota party plenum and Palakkad party plenum, one could find the stringent guidelines on this subject. In both the plenum documents, the legislators who represent the party, the office bearers and party leaders describe in detail the importance of moulding their family based on party values. For once, the said documents say about the stern family values that can be described as severe moral policing and patriarchal. In such a backdrop, the criticisms raised against the children of a politburo member will be newsworthy. What is the party’s or the party secretary’s fault if the party secretary’s children are to blame for their actions? Such questions will not have any answers before the plenum documents.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is not merely the secretary of CPM in Kerala; earlier he has been minister for Home and for Tourism which means he is one who has held influential positions. As such, when his sons get involved in businesses where crores of rupees turn over, questions may arise how they have been able to get there. And it may also be asked whether it was a small innocuous thing for one to attain the position of vice president of a big organization. There are parallels between this and the controversy regarding Jay Shah, son of BJP national president, Amit Shah. The debate that arose at the national level about Jay Shah was how his 'business' organizations were able to achieve unusual financial growth within such a short span of time. What is subjected to scrutiny is the logic by which being the son of the president of the ruling party at the Centre, or being the son of a state's ruling party becomes a ladder for reaching such heights. The criticism raised by CPM in the case of Jay Shah, are equally relevant in the case of Kodiyeri's sons too.
Kodiyeri and his sons may be able to get over with this allegation through channels other than those of law. And reports indicate that things are moving towards a compromise solution of some kind. When that happens, for the time being the party spokesmen may be able to steer clear of television debates. But it will not be easy to overcome the damage it has caused to the party's image. The result of the controversies is that the people now perceive the party as one like any other political party. Having a rank and file of workers who make sacrifices was a marked feature of the CPM. The controversies that have arisen are capable of weakening their morale, and it cannot be regained by the party hitting out against critics and offering counter-arguments. For a movement, it will be most important to hold the confidence of its following intact. The current line of defence by CPM is not sufficient for that. It calls for no other way than subjecting itself to honest and radical introspection and correction. The cardinal question is whether the party has the internal stamina to do that.