A few days ago, a former Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) headload worker named KG Saji committed suicide in Peechi, Thrissur district of Kerala. CITU is the labor wing of the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM).
A suicide note suggested that he was taking the extreme step following threats from communist party leaders. Saji had recently left the CITU and was working independently.
Saji’s brother alleged that a CPM branch secretary named Gangadharan and the entire local committee had threatened Saji. He said that Saji had told him that he had questioned the CPM donation drive in the name of ‘regional development’, including an overbridge planned in the area. Saji alleged corruption by CPM leaders, and they forced him to commit suicide.
The suicide note also specified the same allegations and blamed Gangadharan and the entire Peechi CPM local committee. They had collected money, and Saji had opposed the same. He added that these leaders threatened him, forcing him to take his own life.
Saji’s friends, including those from the CITU, protested against the CPM leadership. It led to a situation where CPM workers turned against each other and fought on the streets.
CPM Party flags were plucked and thrown away. The angry workers destroyed a CPM mandapam in Peechi village center. They also severely beat PG Gangadharan, the branch secretary, and a couple of his cronies, Varghese Arakkal and Prince Thachil. Workers shattered the stone slab and window panes of the Peechi branch committee office.
Trouble had been brewing in the area, for quite some time. Local CITU workers opposed the regional branch secretary’s interference in their Union affairs. They requested that the district leadership intervene, but nothing happened.
CITU workers in Peechi discarded the blue uniforms that headload workers associated with the communists wear all over Kerala. Workers repainted the party office in white and established a board that said it was an independent headload workers union office. Senior CPM leaders tried to negotiate, but the workers remained adamant.
Mainstream media sank the incident. 49-year-old Saji was unmarried. Corruption is embedded in the CPM system of governance, says critics; leaders never work and force workers to collect ‘donations’.