Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s stand on the UAPA issue has been vindicated with the party coming round to his view that the State Police was right in slapping the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on the two CPI(M) workers arrested for their Maoist connections.

The Chief Minister had come under tremendous pressure from within the party and outside for supporting the police action.

Senior party leaders, including Polit Buro member MA Baby and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had strongly opposed the police action, reinforcing the impression that the party and the CM were on the opposite sides on the arrest under UAPA. Isaac had gone to the extent of visiting the house of one of the two arrested workers, drawing heavy flak.

Even the central CPI(M) leaders, among them party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, had frowned upon the invocation of the dreaded UAPA against the two CPI(M) workers.

But Pinarayi refused to budge from his position, and justified the police action both inside the Kerala Assembly and outside.

The CPI(M) has executed a U-turn on the issue with evidence having emerged of the Maoist links of the arrested workers. The CPI(M) State Secretariat has confirmed the Maoist connections of the duo on receiving a report from the Kozhikode South Area Committee under which they worked.

The CPI(M) has promptly expelled them from the primary membership of the party. The swift action has silenced the critics – both inside and outside the party – who had savaged the Government for invoking the ‘black law’ against the CPI(M) workers.

The police act had created a lot of confusion among the rank and file of the CPI(M). With the party falling in line with the Chief Minister on the sensitive issue, the confusion stands cleared. And the party and the Government have regained the confidence to rebut opposition criticism.

Understandably, the Opposition parties, including the Congress-led United Democratic Front(UDF) and the BJP, tried their level best to extract maximum political mileage from the issue.

Leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala led from the front lambasting the Pinarayi Government for using UAPA against the party workers. The treasury benches effectively countered his criticism by pointing out that he had no moral right to lecture the Government on the issue. While he was the Finance Minister in the erstwhile Oommen Chandy-led UDF Government, he had slapped the UAPA in more than 130 cases. It was the Vijayan Government which withdrew the UAPA on many cases after assuming power in 2016, the ruling party members pointed out, blunting the edge of the Opposition leader’s criticism.

Interestingly, the BJP had backed the CM’s decision to support the police on the issue. The CM was right in backing the police for slapping UAPA because working for a banned organisation justified the imposition of UAPA, a party spokesperson said during a TV channel discussion on the issue.

The CPI(M) has, however, not changed its stand on using UAPA. It is a black law which deserves to be thrown into the dustbin, the party says. But in the case of the two party workers, the invocation of the UAPA was correct.

The CPI had also strongly opposed the use of UAPA against the two workers. The party has all along been opposing the invoking of the dreaded law.

The party, it may be mentioned, had strongly condemned the killing of four Maoist activists by the police in Attappadi in Palakkad district recently It was a fake encounter, the party asserted, with CPI State Secretary Kanam Rajendran himself taking strong exception to the police act. Physical elimination of political opponents had no place in a civilised society and a democratic country like India, the CPI averred.

The firm CPI stand had led to a war of words between the CPI and the CPI(M) leaders. But, now that the Maoist links of the two arrested workers have been confirmed, the bitterness resulting from the CPI-CPI(M) standoff is likely to vanish..

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