For party outsiders, Minister for Local Self-Government M.V. Govindan is, to some measure, a dark horse for the post of Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] State secretary.
The goings-on at the CPI(M) meeting are largely secret traditionally. They remain mostly in the realm of conjecture till the party puts its cards on the table. It seems with hindsight, many had wrongly speculated that Mr. Govindan was an unlikely candidate for the top post.
They premised the hypothesis on the analysis that such an elevation would entail an "improbable" Cabinet reshuffle.
Hence, several news outlets initially prioritised the names of CPI(M) Polit Bureau member A. Vijayaraghavan, Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener E.P. Jayarajan and CPI(M) Central secretariat member A.K. Balan over Mr. Govindan for the party secretary's post.
They inferred that Mr. Vijayaraghavan, who had officiated for party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan when the latter went to the U.S. for treatment in 2021., stood a high chance. On Sunday, the CPI(M) State committee's communique ended the conjectures with resounding finality.
Mr. Govindan left his job as an upper primary school physical training teacher to enter parliamentary politics. Overtime, he earned the label ‘Govindan Master’; a hark back to his teaching days.
In the party, Mr. Govindan is regarded as a self-taught Marxist theoretician. By some accounts, Mr. Govindan had remained above the fray during the so-called era of factionalism in the CPI(M).
The veteran had sought refuge behind the party constitution and organisational dogma during the intra-party strife that saw the then CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on ideologically opposite poles.
Striking a self-effacing manner during his first press conference as party secretary, Mr. Govindan reiterated his view that the CPI(M) was a collective entity. "The individual does not matter. The party programme and constitution do," he said.
A CPI(M) insider said Mr. Govindan had never totally shrugged off his teacher's mantle, given his active presence in party study classes. "The new secretary tends to view society and politics primarily through the prism of Marxist thought. However, he is acutely aware of the exigencies of realpolitik and factors them in decisions," he said.
Mr. Govindan has been in CPI(M) politics for the past five decades. The authorities imprisoned him for resisting the Emergency in 1975. The veteran has authored three books on Marxist thought. His wife P.K. Shyamala is a party member. They have two sons.