Days after son's arrest, Kodiyeri steps aside as Kerala CPI(M) chief citing ill health

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The CPI(M) in a statement has said that Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, state secretary of the party and Politburo member has gone on leave in order to avail medical treatment. The party in an official statement issued on Friday said that the party state Secretariat has approved his request to grant leave for treatment. Kodiyeri has been undergoing treatment for cancer for a while. 

Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener A Vijayaraghavan will hold the charge as state Secretary in the absence of Kodiyeri. The CPI(M) has not made it clear for how long Kodiyeri would be on leave. However, it is unusual that the charge of the state secretary has been given to someone else while the secretary goes on leave. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had reigned over the party for 17 years and not once had the post been temporarily given to any of his CPI(M)’s colleagues. Kodiyeri had left for the US in October 2019, but during his absence, no other party leader was made State Secretary in charge. 

The move comes at a time when his son Bineesh Kodiyeri has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate which is investigating a Bengaluru drug case. Bineesh’s friend and business associate Mohammed Anoop was arrested with possession of drugs and the ED has said in its remand report that they suspect Bineesh had given funds to Mohammed Anoop and was not disclosing all facts.

This is, however, not the first time that Kodiyeri has been dragged into a controversy because of his son. He had reportedly expressed his willingness to be away from the post when allegations about his eldest son Binoy Kodiyeri surfaced in 2019. A Mumbai-based woman had lodged a rape complaint at the Oshiwara police in June 2019. 

A source close to the party told TNM that this time too Kodiyeri would most likely have opted to step away from the post and may have felt that he was not getting enough support from within the party. What has surprised many people, however, is Vijayaraghavan who has been chosen to step in for Kodiyeri, even if temporarily, does not hail from Kannur. Leaders from Kannur have almost always been at the helm of the party.

According to the source, there have been talks among a section of the party that Bineesh’s arrest has caused a loss of face. One faction of the CPI(M) has blamed Bineesh’s arrest for its recent embarassment, while not highlighting the damage caused by the gold smuggling case. 

Kodiyeri was first elected as State Secretary in February 2015. After completing his three year term, he was re-elected in 2018.