Ten days after the gruesome murder of a Youth Congress leader by alleged CPM cadre, yet another all-party peace meeting was enacted in strife-torn Kannur on Wednesday. The Congress-led Opposition, United Democratic Front boycotted the meeting in protest against the presence of a CPM Rajya Sabha member on the dais and the refusal to allow three MLAs belonging to the UDF attend the meeting and share the dais. However, it was clear from the proceedings that the meeting was controlled by CPM district committee secretary P. Jayarajan, who, in the first place, had no business to be present there. It was on 14 February last year that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after a round of all-party meeting promised that his government would ensure peace in Kannur. Exactly a year later almost to the day, Shuhaib of the Congress party was murdered by those who belonged to Vijayan’s party.

Anyway, public knows that nothing happens at these meetings other than rival parties flinging accusations against each other, reeling out numbers of those killed. Once out of the venue it is usually going back to the “annihilation” business. There had been cases when large scale violence had erupted even before the ink dried on the paper, as happened after a peace meeting held on 27 December 2017. Wednesday’s peace meeting was number 218 held at district, taluk and panchayat levels after the current Left Democratic Front came to power in May 2016. Of this, the Chief Minister found time to attend two. In this period, ten murders had taken place in Kannur alone. In all these cases, and elsewhere in the state, CPM figures on one side. 

It was the defiant language of the statement issued by Jayarajan that had put the CPM leadership in a fix. Jayarajan, who had denied any party involvement in the murder from day one, finally admitted that the arrested belongs to the party. But he added that since the party did not have any faith in the police, it would conduct its own inquiry to find out about its involvement. “We never claimed that Akash Thillankari is not a party member,” said Jayarajan. “When a crime takes place, the police arrests people. That doesn’t mean that a person has really committed the crime. Here, let the police do their duty. We have our own system to analyse the involvement of a party member in a crime,” Jayarajan, himself accused in two murder cases, held forth. What he did not say was that in Kannur, the party has its own law and that is what matters. But his state secretary tried to smoothen out matters by saying that it was not the duty of the party to find out the murderers. Once again he parroted the line of “in case party members are found to be behind the incident, strong action will be taken”.

It is no exaggeration that the public in general has become very cynical towards murder politics. No one on the street is ready to swallow assurances. When the CPM party secretary says that action will be taken against those party men involved in any murder, the general belief is that the party will hire lawyers to defend the accused, take care of their families, and in due course induct them into higher party forums even if they are languishing in jail. Past experience shows that CPM will go to any extent in protecting its members involved in murder cases. However, the party media wing is doing its best to give an impression that Pinarayi Vijayan and party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are unhappy with the Kannur leadership. Pictures showing the two in a huddle with Jayarajan at the ongoing state party meet at Thrissur are being circulated to justify this.

Despite the party censoring Jayarajan some time back for self-promotion, he was re-elected secretary again last month, a sign that Jayarajan’s grip over the Kannur party is total. And the party in turn is rife with known criminals involved in such murders as that of T.P. Chandrashekharan, who get parole as and when they like. Recently it had come to light that many of those sentenced in that murder had undergone VIP treatment at the government Ayurveda hospital in Kannur. There had been no denial on this either from the party or the government.

For the past two months or so, Kerala CM Vijayan was busy attending half of the 14 district committee meetings from the beginning to the end. According to party insiders, Vijayan and Kodiyeri had divided the district committees among themselves so that they have total control over the state unit. With the ageing Achthanandan silenced to a very large extent, there is hardly anyone in party ranks capable of questioning the two. They dominate the CPM and the government.

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