Kerala all-party peace meet ends in fiasco

Leaders of Opposition parties walk out of meeting after verbal duel with Communist Party of India Marxist leaders

Thiruvananthapuram: An all-party meeting called in Kerala’s Kannur district on Wednesday, convened in the backdrop of the brutal murder last week of Youth Congress leader P.S. Shuhaib, 29 ended in fiasco, with the leaders of Opposition parties walking out of the meeting after a verbal duel with Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) leaders.

The meeting was held even as Congress leaders averred that the CPM had masterminded the murder of Shuhaib, who had 37 cuts on his body, and the CPM vehemently denying the charge.

The meeting began in stormy fashion when the district Congress committee president Satheeshan Pacheni protested the organisers’ failure to invite Opposition MLAs to the meeting. Leaders from the Opposition were also unhappy that CPM parliamentarian K.K. Ragesh was given a seat on the dais.

Minister A.K. Balan who presided over the meeting clarified that it was not a meeting of people’s representatives, but an all-party meeting aimed at restoring peace in Kannur district, but it did not cut much ice with the Opposition leaders.

This was followed by a sharp verbal duel between Pacheni and CPM Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan, after which the Opposition leaders walked out of the meeting. They said they would not participate in any more such meetings until Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself called for a peace meeting.

Following stiff opposition to his presence on the dais, Ragesh later agreed to come down and sit in the audience, but by then the Opposition leaders decided to boycott the meeting and staged a walkout.

Jayarajan later told media persons that the Opposition was “playing a drama”, and that if they had some commitment to the cause, they would have participated in the discussion for peace and then voiced their grievances.

While political killings continue to shake up Kannur, several appeals are also doing the rounds on social media in Kerala, asking cadres not to lay down their lives for their party or leaders, and pointing out that their leaders make political capital out of the deaths of cadres, whose families are left to fend for themselves.


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