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Is Pinarayi Vijayan 'Captain' or not? Debate raging in poll- bound Kerala

One may feel there is nothing in a moniker, but it is not that simple in the ruling CPI(M), where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is addressed as 'Captain' by admirers

Kerala Assembly elections | Pinarayi Vijayan  | CPI (M)

Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

One may feel there is

nothing in a moniker, but it is not that simple in the ruling CPI(M), where Chief Minister is addressed as 'Captain' by admirers, triggering a raging debate within the party and outside, with many saying the tag should be given to the political outfit and not an individual.

"Kerala's captain is here" or "the captain who led Kerala in crisis" are some of the slogans used to welcome the Chief Minister by hardcore supporters and followers during poll campaigns and meetings.

However, the Left critics opine that the Marxist party has no tradition of branding or projecting any individual as its face, especially during elections and any act against it is personality cult worship.

Interestingly Vijayan was an arch critic of cult worship in the party.

He had criticised former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan many times over that.

The debate over the 'Captain' reference began recently when senior leader and the party's former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan replied to a question from a reporter.

He had asked whether anyone had heard of any party literature carrying a term like 'Captain'.

"The terms like Captain are coming from people. As far as CPI(M) is concerned, everyone is a comrade," he had said.

Echoing similar views and referring to the Left front's poll slogan "LDF, for sure", senior party leader and former district secretary of politically volatile Kannur district, P Jayarajan said not individuals, but the party and the Left front are giving an assurance to people.

"As Kodiyeri has told the media, everyone is a comrade in this party...and the party is the captain," he said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Jayarajan also said when people are close to someone, they show their love and affection in many ways.

"Some people may write down songs (to express admiration)...others like to keep photos and certain people like to get tattooed to show their love.

But Communists are not fond of any such personality cult worship," he further said, adding that there was no point in right wing politicians and the media getting upset over the mass support received by the Chief Minister.

Though at first glance the FB post seems to be downplaying the controversy over the 'captain' reference, many feel it was the Kannur strongman's secret jibe on the party leadership and Vijayan for criticising him once in the name of a music album, praising his personality as a mass leader.

Over three years ago, P Jayarajan, popularly known as 'PJ' among his followers, had been reportedly criticised and warned by the leadership over the music album, brought out by some of the party workers in Kannur, saying that it was "self-glorification" and amounted to promote personality cult.

As the discussion over Jayarajan's FB post continued, Vijayan on Sunday sought to play down the issue and accused the media of creating an unnecessary controversy.

Not a single word or sentence was wrong in Jayarajan's post, he told reporters in Kannur.

"Some media is after Jayarajan now. There's nothing against the party inhis FB post. He defended the party in a propermanner.

But the media intentionally misinterpreted it. This is not right on the part of the media," the Chief Minister said.

Repeating the statement of Jayarajan, the CM said many are affected by the rise in popularity of communist leaders.

"Well, that's a fact. The popularity of the LDF has increased. Those who oppose us are worried," he added.

While CPI(M)'s acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan said it was natural for Vijayan to be called 'captain' by people and was a recognition for his work in the last five years, the LDF coalition partner, CPI's state secretary Kanam Rajendran said neither his party or the CPI(M) address their Chief Minister as 'captain' but as 'comrade' only.

Meanwhile, well-known Left sympathiser and political observer Dr Azad on Sunday criticised calling as 'captain' and shared his poem on his FB page against it.

"We have no captains... we have only comrades," the poem said.

The opposition Congress has used the 'captain' row as an opportunity to take on Vijayan and the CPI(M) in the poll- bound state.

While KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran said Vijayan was the "captain of a sinking ship, senior leader K Sudhakaran alleged that P Jayarajan's FB post was a natural reaction for sidelining him.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, April 04 2021. 16:06 IST