"The State [Kerala] Secretariat has granted the request of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan for leave from the responsibility in order to get follow-up medical treatment. A Vijayaraghavan will be handling the responsibilities of the secretary." So ran the press release issued by Kerala state committee of CPM on Friday Nov 13. People will accept as informtion the part that A Vijayaraghavan will be in charge as secretary; but there will be few takers, including from the party's loyal members, for the other part that this is because Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's reason is medical treatment. The public will perceive this only in the backdrop of the scam - which has been much in focus before the public for long - surrounding the family of the state secretary who is also a member of Polit Bureau; to them it is the controversy and criminal cases regarding the shady deals that prompted his stepping down or the party asking him to step down. Any explanation other than this will be viewed only as a joke.
The fact that Bineesh, the son of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan got incriminated in a case of black money related to narcotic trade, now under investigation by Enforcement Directorate (ED), had put the party and its cadre in a tight spot. But the CPM tried to dodge this with the argument that the leader need not be blamed for a son's wrongdoing. The leadership also kept asserting that the party or its secretary had never tried to justify or defend Bineesh, plus making the refrain that the law could take its course. From a technical perspective, this stance is perfectly right, for Bineesh is a citizen who has attained majority and has his own individual identity. Thus it is a valid position that a father cannot be held responsible for the offences by the son. Nevertheless, there are other more relevant facets to the issue as well. This is not the first time that allegations have been raised against Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's family. Earlier, his elder son Binoy Kodiyeri had been involved in a case: a UAE citizen appeared and lodged a complaint with the party's central leadership that Binoy swindled money from a business. And then, a woman from Mumbai came out claiming that Binoy had a son by her; the matter had gone upto the stage of conducting a DNA test. The names of the two sibilants had figured several times in dealings involving crores of rupees. Neither of the sons had a antecedents of any gradual rise to business successes. A natural reproach will come up that it was by making capital out of the position of their father as state minister and party secretary that they were able to make such huge deals. Or else, the party or the secretary should have been able to convince critics how they were able to achieve these; which has not happened so far. In short, the theory of 18-plus citizens will hold water only in its technical sense.
The Kodiyeri issue also bristles with issues around the legacy and tradition of Communist party. The simple and austere lives of party leaders and their family, together with their personal integrity were assets of Communist movement. Therefore, it is plain to any observer that the unedifying scandals surrounding the family of a top leader will affect as much the morale of the party rank and file as the party's morality. But the organisation did not take the moral stand of recognising that. Now it has come to the stage of its secretary stepping down when things looked getting out of hand and the case and follow-up actions are getting stronger. It would have helped if this wisdom had dawned a little earlier. As things stand now, the party has taken all the damage and in addition, the secretary has had to keep away too. But when a leadership is in a serious disconnect with the party ranks, all this is bound to happen.