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When factionalism raged, Kodiyeri was the peacemaker

October 01, 2022 10:39 pm | Updated 10:39 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

The untimely passing away of Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has brought down the curtain on the political career of a leader who was clearly destined for higher things in Kerala politics.

As the successor to Pinarayi Vijayan as the party State secretary in 2015 and who continued in the post for a third term, Kodiyeri, as Mr. Balakrishnan was popularly known, would have gone places in Kerala's polity.

High on popularity

Evidently, he was second in command in the State CPI(M), in terms of popularity and holding the party citadel intact during its turbulent times with a faction led by veteran leader V.S. Acuthanandan on one side and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the other.

In retrospect, he preferred to be a devoted apparatchik when the ‘cold war’ between the power groups flared up into public domain even as many believed that he displayed steadfast loyalty to Mr. Vijayan.

On the defensive

At the helm for six years, Mr. Balakrishnan proved that he was a deft politician quelling factionalism within the official group at the district levels. He had taken a one-year leave from the party on medical grounds. However, he was put on the defensive when the party got a bad press after his son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested and his elder son Binoy Kodiyeri faced charges in an alleged rape case in Mumbai.

When the party was beset with internal crisis, Mr. Balakrishnan was ready to step in with a smile. It is no small an ability in a leader to integrate the intellectual and the realpolitik together and reach a consensus within the party.

As a fighter who rose from being in the forefront of many struggles through student and youth movements to the party leadership, Mr. Balakrishnan climbed the ladder from a member of the local committee to the Polit Bureau. When the first Pinarayi Vijayan government had to face severe tribulations, especially from several community and pressure groups, Mr. Balakrishnan without hurting anyone's sentiments skilfully took them into confidence while maintaining the government's stance.

In tune with times

One will have to agree that Mr. Balakrishnan was also willing to unlearn from the dogmatic political ancestry in tune with the changing times. Neither an ideologue nor a theorist, Mr. Balakrishnan had a hard shell of infused Marxian tradition in him. Certainly he has set a burnished example living up to the communist dictum for his successors to follow.

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