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Overt infighting and factionalism bedevils CPI in run-up to State conference

Party veterans C. Divakaran and K.E. Ismail suggest the conference may see a challenge to State secretary Kanam Rajendran's election for a third consecutive term

September 27, 2022 08:49 pm | Updated September 28, 2022 10:05 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

File picture of CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran

File picture of CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran | Photo Credit: S. Gopakumar

Factionalism and infighting appeared to bedevil the Communist Party of India (CPI) with barely two days left for the party's State conference to commence here on Friday.

In an arguably uncharacteristic and overt display of factionalism in a party that swears by a cult-like internal discipline, CPI veterans C. Divakaran and K.E. Ismail suggested the State conference might see a challenge to State secretary Kanam Rajendran's election for a third consecutive term.

They also contested the 75-year age limit set for CPI State council members. They implied the current leadership had used it as a factional weapon to oust senior leaders from the party's decision-making forums.

An online media quoted Mr. Ismail stating that the State conference was unlikely to re-elect Mr. Rajendran unanimously for the party lacked the spirit of unity.

The statement triggered speculation about a dark horse entry for the secretary's post. Mr. Ismail did not name himself as a possible candidate. However, some circles dropped the name of CPI State assistant secretary K. Prakash Babu as a likely contender.

Mr. Ismail and Mr. Divakaran hinted that the State conference would witness resistance to the move to oust senior leaders from committees by citing the age bar for political expediency.

It also appeared factionalism had permeated the relationships between the CPI veterans. Mr. Rajendran retorted that he was senior to Mr. Divakaran in the party and was its State council member since 1971.

Mr. Rajendran said the CPI's national council had set the age bar for election to various party committees. CPI district conferences had adhered to the guideline. The State conference was unlikely to see any deviation from the party line.

A CPI insider noted that internal divisions had existed previously in the CPI. However, it rarely spilt over into the public realm in a toxic manner.

The infighting has set the stage for a possibly politically turbulent State conference, a precursor of the CPI's 24th party congress at Vijayawada from October 14 to 18.

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