October 09, 2022

Lal Salaam Comrade Kodiyeri

Sitaram Yechury

POLIT Bureau member Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is no more.

For over three years, he courageously battled cancer. Despite this, during this period he admirably led the Party in Kerala as the state secretary to a remarkable unprecedented LDF victory in the assembly elections, negating decades of electoral history when a no incumbent government was re-elected for a second term. Following this, under his leadership the Party state committee hosted the 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) in Kannur in April 2022. The meticulous manner in which the arrangements were made and the attention to the detail that was paid ensured that the six days of Party Congress moved effortlessly and efficiently in conducting its business. The mammoth sea of humanity that participated in the concluding rally of the Party Congress was testimony to the overall work of the Party committees that generated such popular enthusiasm.

Once again, a sea of humanity converged at Kannur on October 3, 2022, with grief writ large on their faces, to pay homage to their beloved leader on his final journey.


When I joined the SFI during 1973-74 Comrade Kodiyeri was the state secretary of the Kerala SFI. He continued to discharge this responsibility till 1979 when I was elected as the All-India joint secretary at the third SFI national conference. During this period, the SFI in Kerala emerged as the most militant and powerful Left oriented student organisation in the state. With the imposition of internal emergency in 1975 Comrade Kodiyeri was arrested under the dreaded MISA and remained in jail for 18 months, till the Emergency was defeated. The resistance to the Emergency led by the Party in Kerala and the heroic role of the SFI have been documented and surely more details will be supplemented.


Among the various attributes of Comrade Kodiyeri’s work and life there are three that need to be highlighted. These need to be emulated by the present generation of Communists not only in Kerala but all over the country.

First, his steadfast commitment to the revolutionary tenets of Marxism-Leninism. Ideological commitment was paramount to Comrade Kodiyeri’s personality. He consciously combated all forms of deviations. There were no shortcuts to success as far as he was concerned.  This firmness was rooted in the struggles to realise the ultimate goal of building a society free from exploitation – socialism.

Second, he had qualities of extraordinary courage facing any adverse situation bravely. Intense police repression and authoritarian onslaughts during the Emergency and subsequent attacks by reactionary forces like the RSS could never deter Comrade Kodiyeri in planning, organising and leading mass activities across the state of Kerala championing the cause of the working  people and building Kerala society as an exemplary one upholding secularism and democracy, maintaining communal harmony and establishing human development indices that remain the highest in India.

Thirdly, Comrade Kodiyeri had exceptional organisational skills upholding the principle of collective functioning with individual responsibility. This helped not only in strengthening the Party organisation but more importantly in strengthening the Party’s links with the people of Kerala.

For these and other reasons, his departure is a big loss for the revolutionary movement. The outpouring of grief on his last journey was accompanied by steely determination to carry forward the legacy and work for further strengthening the Party.

Along with Comrade Prakash Karat I attended the Party’s state committee meeting on August 28 which was convened when the medical reports indicated a deterioration in Comrade Kodiyeri’s condition. Polit Bureau member and chief minister Comrade Pinarayi Vijayan and I met Comrade Kodiyeri and his family at their home and suggested that he be shifted to the Apollo hospital in Chennai for better medical supervision and care. As always being the loyal soldier of the Party, Comrade Kodiyeri agreed and was moved by an air ambulance the next morning. For over a month he continued to battle the dreaded disease. As an old saying goes “silent like a cancer growth”, the disease finally overwhelmed.

Red salute to Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.