Seems that whispers are turning into loud murmurs in the Kerala unit of CPI(M) -- currently in a spot amid several "corruption" allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family.
The focus has been turned on the CM's son-in-law P.A.Mohammed Riyas, who was elevated as the State Minister for Public Works soon after his wedding with Veena Vijayan.
Riyas married Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan at the height of Covid in 2020 and since then his stock has had a meteoric rise baffling many in the party.
Riyas rose through student politics and was the top youth wing leader when the wedding (second for both) took place. Soon, he was granted a sure seat in the 2021 Assembly polls for the CPI(M) at Beypore in Kozhikode district, which gave him an easy win.
The biggest surprise was reserved for him when he, a first time legislator, was given the plum cabinet minister's post handling Public Works and Tourism. The move raised many eyebrows given there were several experienced legislators who were left out.
Murmurs began when A.N.Shamseer -- a two-time legislator and also a Muslim -- failed to get a berth and was upset with Riyas getting one. On a few occasions, the former took potshots against Riyas and to cool things, recently Shamseer was made the Speaker.
When things appeared to be calmer, out came the Income Tax department report detecting serious flaws in the filings made by a Kochi-based mining company-CMRL about making payments to Veena’s IT firm Exalogic.
The issue was instantly cashed in on by Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnaden, who released figures from statements filed by her company, leaving many bewildered.
Though the CPI(M) state secretary M.V.Govindan and a few top brass stoutly
defended Veena, the Congress and the BJP has demanded that Vijayan and Riyas or Veena herself explain the I-T statements.
Five-time MLA K.B.Ganesh Kumar -- the lone legislator of the party Kerala Congress (B) an ally of the ruling Left-- was the first to fire a salvo at Riyas over his handling of the Public Works department.
On Monday it was the turn of Riyas's predecessor - the veteran and popular CPI(M) leader G.Sudhakaran, known for his plain speaking. Perhaps, he is the only one who has taken on Riyas publicly by expressing his displeasure on his Facebook post.
Sudhakaran got a rude jolt in 2021 when he, a popular State Minister for Public Works aiming for a fourth straight win from his Ambalapuzha Assembly seat in Alappuzha district, failed to get a seat.
After the setback, though he dropped enough hints of his displeasure, in his Facebook post, he pointed out that infrastructure development is a continuous process and what one now sees is when news about it is put out, the efforts of the
previous government is not mentioned and it doesn’t augur well.
Sudhakaran gave a few examples of the various projects he started at his home district and got completed recently.
Joining the issue, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan on Monday slammed Riyas
and said it’s he who is heading a group in the office of Vijayan and is running the Home department also. And appears to have emerged as the most powerful Minister” said Satheesan.
Satheesan also pointed out the biggest success of the Opposition is that they have been able to silence Vijayan who has not spoken a word in the last six months. "We are eagerly waiting to hear his response to the six allegations that have been raised," he said.
It remains to be seen on how much Vijayan will react as he is to address an election rally at the Puthupally by-election on Thursday.