TWO weeks ago after the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) suspended AP Abdulla Kutty the young member of parliament is far from contrite. All indications are that he plans to plod a lonely furrow.
Abdulla Kutty, who has held the Lok Sabha seat from Kannur since 1999, was suspended after he commended Gujarat's Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister Narendra Modi as a model of developmental leadership.
He first endorsed Modi while on a visit to Dubai last month.
Responding to questions on his return home, he reiterated his appreciation of Modi's developmental efforts.
His statements embarrassed the party as Narendra Modi was the man at the helm during the anti-muslim riots in Gujarat.
Earlier, he had irked the party leaders by opposing "bandh" (forced work stoppage) as a form of agitation. They were also probably unhappy with his overt religious pursuits.
When the CPI-M area committee sought an explanation, he defended his statements, saying he endorsed only Modi's development policies, not his communal policies. Not satisfied with the explanation, the suspended him from membership for one year.
In the CPI-M's penal code, a year's suspension is the second highest punishment, the first being expulsion. Every form of punishment is conceived as an opportunity to the member to admit his mistake and mend his ways.
Abdulla Kutty's suspension rules out the CPI-M nominating him to contest the Lok Sabha election due in the next few months.
There has been speculation that the party was planning to drop him anyway.
His statements since the suspension suggest that he is preparing to leave the CPI-M. There has been speculation in the media about his joining the Congress. The BJP's state leadership has extended him an open invitation.
From what he has said and done no firm conclusion can be drawn about his willingness to enter the Lok Sabha elections as the candidate of any other party.
Last week, speaking at a function organised by an affiliate of the Indian Union Muslim League, he said when the Congress weakened communal forces had gained ground in the country and when the League weakened extremists had gained strength in the muslim community.
He also revealed that he was seeking enrolment in the territorial army, an outfit which enables civilians to get military training in peacetime and do active service in wartime.
Kannur, first represented in the Lok Sabha by Marxist veteran AK Gopalan, was known as a Communist fortress. After his time, Mullappalli Ramachandran, a young Congress leader, captured it and held it for 14 long years. The constituency has a large number of Muslim voters, and the Congress party's alliance with the league played a part in Ramachandran's successive wins. In 1991, the CPI-M, looking for a candidate who can make inroads into the muslim vote bank, picked Abdulla Kutty.
He was only 31 then and had little political experience. The party presented him as a wonder kid, who was born to win.
Abdulla Kutty is from an orthodox agricultural family whose members were Congress sympathisers. Like other young people of his village, he dreamed of migrating to the Gulf region.
After finishing school, on the advice of an older brother, who was working in the Gulf, he joined an industrial training institute to acquire a technical qualification before leaving for the dreamland. At the institute, he became a member of the Students Federation of India, a CPI-M affiliate, and was elected general secretary of the students union. That changed the course of his life.
Later, as a student of the Sree Narayana College, Kannur, he helped the SFI to capture its campus from the pro-Congress Kerala Students Union and went on to become general secretary of the Calicut University Union.
In 1996, as the CPI-M candidate, he won a district panchayat seat, which was previously held by the Congress. The same winning streak helped him to enter the Lok Sabha, ending Mullappalli Ramachandran's unbroken run.
While Abdulla Kutty progressed quickly from campus politics to national politics, within the party he could not go beyond area committee membership.
Like Suresh Kurup, A. Sampath and S. Sivaraman, all of whom became MPs at a young age, he found that upward movement within the organisation is not as easy as getting into the Lok Sabha.
How Abdulla Kutty's departure will affect the CPI-M's electoral prospects in Kannur is a question that remains to be answered. --Gulf Today, January 26, 2009.