An amulet or a glucose monitor? The big mystery over what Kodiyeri was wearing
An amulet or a glucose monitor? The big mystery over what Kodiyeri was wearing

An amulet or a glucose monitor? The big mystery over what Kodiyeri was wearing

Was the leader of a party that professed rationalism wearing a thread bearing religious significance?

Even as CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has landed in a soup over a speech delivered in Payyannur of Kannur district, a different, more enticing fare seems to be cooking too.

Delivering a fierce speech on the continued BJP attacks on CPI(M) members, it did not take much time for Kodiyeri to be overcome with emotion. “If somebody comes to attack us, they should not go back as they came,” he said.
In a moment full of excitement, he raised his arm, gesticulating wildly. And that's the precise moment someone clicked a picture. Someone else zoomed in on it and out tumbled what could have been a secret so cleverly tucked away under his arms. Oh, literally under his arms.
Was the alien object on Kodiyeri’s right arm an amulet? Was the leader of a party that professed rationalism wearing a thread bearing religious significance? Kodiyeri and his arm even made it to Asianet’s satirical show “Chithram Vichithram”.  So much for the self-proclaimed communist atheists of Kerala, the headlines screamed.
What came to mind was a popular scene from the 1991 Malayalam film “Sandhesham”. A film praised heavily for its portrayal of political scenarios, the film also rips apart pseudo-ideologues.
A popular scene form the movie goes like this: A young party man asks a senior member for advice over how to handle his family's pressure to get married. The senior leader quickly unleashes half-baked party principles and ideologies on the young leader, and tears apart religious structures. Much to the chagrin of the senior leader, the young member reminds him that he is a regular at a nearby temple. 

Before the controversy could get any spicier, Kodiyeri came forward with a bucket of cold water. 

In a hurriedly called press meet, Kodiyeri showed off his arms again and explained to reporters that he was wearing a glucose monitoring chip, as advised by his doctors. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a technology used in routine diabetes management, he said.

But for 62-year-old Kodiyeri, this is not the first time that he has faced flak over religious beliefs. In 2007, a major controversy broke out when his wife visited the Kadambuzha Devi temple in Kerala’s Malappuram district to pray for her husband’s well-being. It was widely reported that Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s and his son’s name figured in the VIP list of “poomoodal pooja”. He was the state Home Minister at the time.

A Crime Branch enquiry was promised. Though Kodiyeri has never vouched for his atheism publicly, he had then dismissed such allegations calling them attempts at maligning the reputation of CPI(M) in the state.
In September last year, the party had invited criticism over its decision to celebrate Krishna Jayanthi, in an attempt to counter the BJP’s popularity in the state. Kodiyeri had refuted media reports.
The amulet controversy has put the CPI(M) in a spot as, in 2010, its Rectification Document had reportedly instructed party members to not take part in religious ceremonies.
But not everyone in the CPI(M) is a non-believer or pretends to be so. Member of Parliament from Alappuzha KS Manoj, a believer had quit the party in 2010 protesting against the Rectification Document.
Manoj, a believer, had come down heavily on the party’s decision claiming that such a directive was in violation of the Constitution. The controversy that the incident sparked was so large that then party chief Prakash Karat had to issue clarification.
Responding on the issue in the party mouthpiece “People’s Democracy”, Karat wrote in January 2010 that the party does not prevent believers from joining the party. The only condition for membership, he wrote, is acceptance of the Party Programme and a willingness to work under Party discipline.
“Party members are not being asked to give up their religious faith or practice.  But if there is any religious custom or practice which goes against Communist norms such as practice of untouchability, depriving women of equal rights or obscurantist customs such as preventing widows from remarriage etc. which are given religious sanction – these are to be given up,” he clarified.

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