The Jayarajans of Kannur
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E P Jayarajan, P Jayarajan and M V Jayarajan are effectively the face, individually or collectively, of the CPM in a Kerala district where politics is often marked by bloodshed and revenge murders. They have tried and kept the cadre's morale high with pep talk, which invariably means abusing police, the judiciary and the media, usually in front of TV cameras.
The Jayarajans' growth in Kannur has come alongside that of Pinarayi Vijayan in the state. Each has risen from humble beginnings in his own communist village. And each is a product of the student movement, unlike the previous generation of communist leaders who had emerged largely from the working class.
"The goon culture rose in Kannur after the death of A K Gopalan in 1977," says veteran communist Berlin Kunhanananthan Nair. "The party in Kannur came under the control of M V Raghavan, a tough leader who used violent means to counter the Sangh Parivar."
Nair says the rise of the Jayarajans, successively, came when the CPM began to take on rivals physically. He feels the dominance of muscle power has set back the growth of "genuine, ideologically committed" leaders.
E P Jayarajan, 62, is a party central committee member and a second-time MLA from Mattanur. He has an electrical engineering diploma and was the first all-India president of CPM youth wing DYFI.
He was groomed by Raghavan, who dominated Marxist politics in Kannur until the party ousted him in 1986. In battle with the Sangh Parivar since the 1970s, the CPM put a premium on muscle power and Raghavan recruited Jayarajan from his own village, Pappinassery, so that he could intimidate Parivar rivals. Once Raghavan was ousted, E P Jayarajan placed his loyalties in the next power centre, Pinayari.
In 1995, Jayarajan was travelling home in a train when rivals shot at him while in Andra Pradesh. He alleged that Raghavan and Congress leader K Sudhakaran, another Kannur tough, were behind the attack.
Jayarajan has helped change the party's image into one that runs amusement parks and tourism ventures. As general manager of party newspaper Deshabhimani, he once accepted a Rs 2 crore bond from lottery king Santiago Martin for the daily, before the party leadership made him return it. And though the party frowns on alcoholism, he has no qualms about insisiting that toddy be made part of one's daily intake, stressing that it would create job opportunities.
Jayarajan has two sons, both working in the Middle East.
P Jayarajan, 59, now in judicial custody in connection with the murder of Muslim League worker Abdul Shukoor, is a symbol of the survivor of political violence. In August 1999, he was savagely attacked and grievously injured by RSS men in his house, then miraculously "returned to life".
Brought up in Marxist bastion Kathiroor, Jayarajan is a school dropout who drew his inspiration from Patyam Rajan. Jayarajan, who became a member of the state committee in 1998 as a loyalist of V S Achuthanandan, is now in the forefront of the Pinarayi camp that targets VS. In 1996, Jayarajan, then area secretary at Koothuparamba, had faced disciplinary action on charges of shirking electioneering duties. He later became MLA twice, in 2001 and 2006. He has been the party's district secretary since 2010 after incumbent P Sasi was forced to quit on charges of sexual misconduct.
Jayarajan's sister P Sathidevi is a former MP from Vatakara. Of his two sons, neither involved in politics, one was injured while handling a bomb three years ago.
M V Jayarajan, 52, has followed in the footsteps of the two senior Jayarajans. A law graduate who hails from party village Peralasseri, he was the DYFI's state secretary and all-India joint secretary before becoming a legislator twice.
He is known for his provocative statements. Last year, he was sentenced to six months in jail for abusing Kerala High Court judges who had banned roadside meetings. "Some idiots sitting in glass chambers are framing laws," he said at a public meeting. The Supreme Court later granted him bail.
On other occasions, he has exhorted women to take on police with chilli powder, and students to beat up a police officer, besides forcibly freeing party men from police custody several times. Most recently, he publicly abused a senior police officer investigating the Shukoor murder. Since P Jayarajan was jailed, M V Jayarajan has been leading the party agitation in Kannur.
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