Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Action against Kerala CM could hit CPM hard

5 Feb 2009,

NEW DELHI: With CPM politburo left with little choice but to take action against Kerala chief minister VS Achutanandan for openly defying the party line on the CBI case against state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, one of the worst crisis has hit the party in the state.

But unlike previous occasions, the crisis would only deepen even if some action is taken against Achutanandan. For unlike in the past, the politburo for the first time would be seen siding with a leader who is widely perceived in the state and among a section of CPM as corrupt.

Vijayan's reaction to Achutanandan's categorical refusal to attend CPM's Nav Kerala Yatra shows that he is on a stronger wicket. "All those who are in the party will participate in the yatra too,'' he said in Thiruvananthapuram. Support came to him even from CITU leader and politburo member MK Pandhe who repeated the top party body's line that the case against Vijayan is politically motivated.

Achutanandan, despite his failure to deliver as chief minister, is the tallest leader in the state with public perception in his favour.

It is this public opinion that led the party to change its stand and VS was allowed to contest the 2006 assembly election. Even the party document of the 19th Party Congress admitted that the "revised decision to allow VS Achutanandanan to contest the election" was "helpful" for the success of the party and LDF in the assembly elections. A similar mood is growing in the state again.

While disputing that the entire state leadership is behind Vijayan, Kerala leaders are worried about the fallout of this crisis. "How different will we be from the other parties? Left's moral high-ground would suffer forever,'' a senior Kerala leader said.

It is not that senior leaders have not been shown the door earlier but the party was earlier not seen siding with someone of a `dubious' repute. In 1986, when MV Raghvan was removed, or later in 1994, when K R Gauri was expelled, it was purely on ideological difference. Tall leaders like EMS Namboodiripad and EK Nayanar were still around to steer the party forward.

In case VS meets the fate of Raghavan or Gauri, it is likely that the ex-comrades club, a large one at that, could provide him the shoulder to cry on and keep him going as the mascot of honesty in public life, something CPM would find hard to deal with.

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