Veteran Marxist Kodiyeri Balakrishnan resumed duties as the State Secretary of the CPM in Kerala on Friday a year after he stepped down from the all-important post.
In his first interview after returning to the helm, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who was on a year-long leave on medical grounds, speaks to Malayala Manorama, on what kept him going during the interregnum despite adversities on the personal front.
You are back as CPM's State Secretary after one year, and are facing the media once again. How do you feel?
I couldn't execute the functions of the State Secretary after I took ill. The COVID-19 pandemic restricted travel, and hence I sought leave. Now with the change in situation, the party decided that I could take up the responsibilities. The party might have felt that the time is ripe for my return since I am also included in one of the teams assigned to oversee district-level conventions.
You had to stay away for a year for medical treatment. Didn't it bother you?
I had to stay away due to illness and it had to be expected. Still, I was part of all other party affairs, including that on policy formation and committees. It was painful that I could not function in public as the party secretary. Mingling with people provides me with more energy.
Though you had gone on medical leave, it was widely said you were staying away due to the arrest of your son Bineesh. And you are returning after he was granted bail?
If that was the case I could have returned immediately after he had been granted bail one-and-a-half months ago. His arrest and my going on leave are different. I was targeted when he was arrested. They spread canards such as my son was arrested in a drug case. The probe found nothing, yet his bail got delayed.
What caused the delay in granting bail? Was it because he is the son of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan?
The stand they took sparks such suspicion. The Additional Solicitor General represented the Enforcement Directorate (ED) even in the District Court, while the prosecutor there appeared for the other three accused. The High Court judge took a stand that a decision would be made only after hearing the ED's argument. They kept prolonging the argument. I don't think it was with good intentions.
Son's arrest, cancer... Weren't they traumatic?
Crisis situations are normal for political workers. In my case, it was a personal assault, especially when I was ill. The intention was to trap my son in a case, destroy the father mentally, and disintegrate the family, and thereby make me inactive in the public sphere. They also wanted to silence me during the elections to the local bodies and the State Assembly.
The opposition and media were lenient towards you. They didn't target you.
I never alleged otherwise. It was the central agencies that tried to hunt me down. If they did not have such an intention, Bineesh's bail would not have been delayed.
Even during the crisis, you did not lose your pleasant demeanour and presence of mind. What kept you going?
I did not commit any offence, and hence there was no need for me to be scared. Our state of mind will be affected only if we have committed something wrong.
Though on leave, didn't Kodiyeri Balakrishnan make crucial decisions in the CPM?
I was part of the collective leadership. Remaining in Thiruvananthapuram helped, since I could intervene whenever a decision had to be made. If I were the secretary, I would have to be on the move. I could take charge of the office and positively intervene in several matters during the assembly polls. It didn't matter whether I was the secretary or not. One should not act based only on the post he holds. These posts are not constant.
Does someone who had stood by you during the crisis need a special mention?
My wife was always with me ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, and it did help me recover. The party bore the huge medical expenses. I would have been disappointed if the party and my family had not stood by me.
How is your health now?
I don't have any specific health issues now. I am taking medicines and should undergo medical check-ups without fail. Cancer is a serious disease. There is a significant change now and it could be treated. One should not always keep thinking of the disease. It would aggravate the condition. I don't think about it. Doctors recommended surgery, and I did as told. When they tell me the next course of treatment, I will go by it. Treating cancer is expensive. We should be able to help those with cancer.
How do you evaluate A Vijaraghavan's performance as the secretary in-charge?
He did well. The Comrade discussed matters with others, and functioned as a collective unit.
Will you get a third term as secretary in March, when the CPM will hold its State conference?
It's up to the party to decide. I don't think about it. I need not tell my opinion now. I will speak only at the party platform.