4 Feb 2009, ET Bureau
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Just how much Kerala's CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is disliked by a section of the party is a point being debated in the state, but the likely intensity of such an emotion was displayed by a youth in Payyannur in the north of the state on Tuesday.
The footwear hurled at Vijayan who is leading the Nava Kerala Yatra missed the target, but the incident put the party state secretary in a select league of leaders who have faced such missiles in recent times, including Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao who suffered a similar humiliation this week and former US president George Bush late last year.
Expectedly, coming from one of Kerala's dhoti-clad denizens, the missile was a chappal as against Jiabao and Bush who had to duck shoes in London and Baghdad respectively. In other similarities between the incidents, all three protestors missed their targets and all shouted curses to back up their acts.
Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi shouted "this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog", when he hurled the first shoe and, "this is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq" when he threw the second one.
The young man who targeted Jiabao in London had shouted "dictator" while throwing the footwear, which reportedly missed the target by a metre.
The Payyannur protestor, identified as 29-year-old T M Shaji shouted "V S Achuthanandan zindabad" before throwing his chappal, just after Vijayan had reviewed a guard of honor by his cadres.
The chappal-throwing incident has brought more attention to the Nava Kerala Yatra which Vijayan is leading even as a section of the party identified with chief minister Achuthanandan is seen to be distancing itself from the march in the backdrop of Vijayan being listed among those accused in the SNC Lavalin case.
The case pertains to some irregularities in giving a contract to Canadian company SNC Lavalin, worth Rs 374 crore. While the official party line is that the case is politically motivated, the chief minister has not openly attested to that viewpoint.
In reply to questions Achuthanandan said he would not be participating in the yatra, while Vijayan said today that "all members of the party will be part of the yatra".
The chappal-hurling incident has vitiated matters further, heaving the issue of sorting out the differences in the state unit into the CPM politburo's court.