Once upon a time Kanjikode in Palakkad was a thriving industrial belt. Tipped to be one of the industrial cluster after Kochi, Kanjikode practically has very small number of private enterprises. Against 1,775 SSI units registered in 2000-2001 only 923 were registered in 2002-03, the number falling to just 114 in 2003-04, which further dwindled ever since.
Ever since Pinarayi Vijayan took over as the chief minister of the state, two NRI businessmen had committed suicide following harassment by Left cadres who did not allow them to set up their enterprises.
NRI businessman Sajan Parayil, 48, committed suicide in Kannur, Kerala in June after the CPI(M) led municipality refused to give permission to function the convention centre, which he had built with his savings. Though Sajan paid bribes to officials and CPI(M) leaders, it is alleged that Municipal chairperson PK Shyamala, the wife of Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Kannur strongman MV Govindan Master, wanted a share in the business establishment.
Sajan worked in Nigeria for several years before returning to Kerala. He had spent Rs 15 crore from his savings to build the convention centre for the villagers.
In February 2018, a 65-year-old Gulf returnee, Sugathan, hanged himself inside his under-construction workshop following threats and harassment from the members of All-India Youth Front (AIYF), the youth wing of Communist Party of India (CPI), and CPI(M). They were demanding a huge sum from Sugathan for their organisations, which he could not give. The Communist goons put up flags and obstructed further construction of the building. Upset, Sugathan committed suicide.
Of late, the management of one of the leading Non Banking Financial Companies, Muthoot Finance, where a section of its employees, egged on by the CPI(M)-affiliated CITU is on an indefinite strike, has threatened to shut its operations in the state. The employees were demanding better salaries and perks. This has affected the normal functioning of the company’s Kerala branches.
A large section of the employees, a majority of them women, took on the CITU goons and broke locks and showed up for work, despite their protests. CPI(M) thugs manhandled women employees, threatened to kill them in many places. “People are angry with the CPI(M) goons whose only work is to close down all successfully running companies. In Cooperative societies run by them, they give paltry Rs 5,000 as salary. They cannot give jobs, but they are out to destroy all economic activity in the state. Communist thugs ruined the industrial climate of the state. Now they want to steal our bread,” said an angry Sreelekha, a Muthoot employ.
Muthoot Finance has 3,600 branches in India, of which 600 branches are in Kerala, and employs over 30,000 people across the country. The business in 300 branches of the company remained standstill since August 20 due to the strike. Muthoot Finance Managing Director, George Alexander, was among those who sat on protest outside the head office on Tuesday after their entrance to the office was blocked by people associated with the CITU goons.
Communists have been anti-development and anti-industry, says Jayakrishnan, a journalist. Radical trade unions, bolstered by successive communist governments, have ruined the industrial atmosphere where people fear to invest in the state. Analysts say that militant trade unionism led by the Marxists has led to a poor work culture and forced highly educated and talented workforce to look for other greener pastures.