Above: Binoy, the eldest son of CPI(M)’s Kerala state secretary and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has frequently been in the news for the wrong reasons/Photo: UNI
Powerful CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s political future is under threat after son Binoy was entangled in an alleged rape and cheating case being heard by a Mumbai sessions court
By NV Ravindranathan Nair in Thiruvananthapuram
Indian epics have stories of enemies of the past life taking rebirth as children in the present life.
The situation looks the same for the CPI(M)’s Kerala state secretary and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan considering the predicament in which he is entangled. Kodiyeri is considered the second most powerful leader in the state’s ruling party after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan but that position is now under threat after a 33-year-old woman charged his elder son, Binoy, with serious allegations of sexual abuse on the promise of marriage for over ten years.
Balakrishnan’s two sons, Binoy and younger son Bineesh, have frequently been in the news for the wrong reasons. They have been accused of abusing their father’s powers during his tenure as home minister of the state. The latest controversy is more damaging since the young woman’s allegations come at a time when the CPI(M) is already on the backfoot following its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The woman, who is a Mumbai resident, claimed that she had an eight-year-old son from the affair, which started when she was working as a bar dancer in Dubai in 2009.
In her complaint filed with the Oshiwara Police Station in Mumbai, she stated that she was not aware that Binoy was already married until recently when she happened to see his Facebook photos with his wife. When she started questioning him, she says in her complaint, he stopped answering her calls and the payments he was making. When she insisted on his marrying her, she claims he began to threaten her.
The case reached the Dindoshi sessions court in Mumbai which granted Binoy anticipatory bail but also gave the go-ahead to the police to conduct a DNA test to prove whether he was the father of the woman’s son. He has also been directed to appear before the investigation officers on all Mondays.
Appearing before officers of the Oshiwara Police Station, Binoy told them that he was ready to give blood samples for the DNA test. Earlier he had rejected the demand.
The politically-sensitive case first surfaced two months back when the woman wrote to the CPI(M) central leadership about Kodiyeri’s son cheating her on the promise of marriage. The central leadership took the position that the party need not intervene after Binoy said that he had not married the woman or had any son by her.
The case, however, became more serious after the woman’s official complaint in which she said that her impoverished parents had eight daughters and she was forced to move to Mumbai to start practising dance to earn a living. With the help of a friend, she reached Dubai and started working as a bar dancer at the Mehbil Dance Bar. In October 2008, according to her version, Binoy visited the bar and used to shower thousands of rupees on her during her performances. She says he introduced himself as a Keralite construction contractor and gave her several gifts.
A year later, he asked her to visit him at his house. When she reached his house, he offered to marry her and lured her to have sex with him. By 2011, she had a son from the affair and Binoy paid for her maintenance.
According to the woman, till 2015, Binoy was paying the rent of the flat which he had arranged for her and their son. “Binoy had offered to marry me on the first birth anniversary of the son. He also wanted me to stop the profession of bar dancer,” she said in the complaint. She had produced bank details showing Binoy paying money into her account, ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 4 lakh, according to Mumbai police.
What the saga has exposed is the degenerate life of a section of CPI(M) leaders and their family members. Earlier, CPI(M) leaders in Kerala commanded respect for their simple lifestyle and discipline which included making sure their children or close relatives did not take advantage of their political status. Now, it is a different story, with a series of scandals involving the abuse of power and amassing of wealth.
This dramatic change happened with the Kerala CPI(M) leadership’s agenda to mobilise funds, set up huge institutions and engage their own relatives in key positions in such institutions. The CPI(M) currently owns television channels, newspapers, printing and publishing houses, major hospitals and several such institutions, engaging a large number of cadre and family members as employees. The party has also amassed buildings and property worth tens of thousands of crores and leaders at each party faction have become direct beneficiaries.
Kodiyeri has not helped his cause when he said that had the case not involved Rs 5 crore, it would not have cropped up. His response attracted severe criticism with the opposition attacking him for trying to bribe the woman involved. He tried to make up for his gaffe by stating, “My son is an adult. He alone is responsible for his conduct in personal life and he will have to face the consequences. Party has nothing to do with it and it will not intervene.” However, the fact is that the CPI(M) leader had full knowledge of his wife, Vinodini Balakrishnan, initiating conciliatory talks with the Mumbai woman and her family and making efforts to settle the case amicably through a payoff. When the woman refused to budge from her demand of Rs 5 crore compensation, the scandal acquired a political dimension.
This comes in the wake of several instances where Binoy and Bineesh have assumed positions like “vice president”, “director” and “partner” in a leading NRI businessman’s corporate group while they had average or below educational qualifications and little professional qualification or experience.
When their luxurious lifestyle became public, the father had done nothing to stop them.
Matters came to a head in February 2018, when a UAE citizen, Hasan Ismaeel Abdullah Al Marzooqi, who owns the Dubai-based Jaas Tourism LLC, claimed that Binoy cheated his company of AED 7 million (about Rs 13 crore). Al Marzooqi had even convened a press meeting in Thiruvananthapuram. However, following the CPI(M) leadership’s intervention, the press meet was cancelled and Al Marzooqi was persuaded to withdrew the case.
However, such embarrassments have robbed the CPI(M) of its moral strength, a powerful electoral attribute. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s children have also been accused of taking favours from NRI businessmen. Pinarayi’s daughter, Veena Vijayan, was appointed as CEO of RP Techsoft, a company owned by Malayali NRI Ravi Pillai in Thiruvananthapuram. After growing criticism, she quit the firm and set up her own company.
The latest scandal involving yet another powerful CPI(M) leader in the state, Kodiyeri, is another nail in the party’s political coffin.