New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will next week discuss the escalating tensions between Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and senior leader Pinarayi Vijayan that Wednesday saw protests outside the Kerala House in New Delhi.
A small group of the chief minister's supporters gathered outside the Kerala House to raise slogans against Vijayan, who has been accused in a multi-million rupee corruption scam by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for wrongly awarding contracts to renovate two hydro-power projects to Canadian company SNC Lavalin 12 years ago when he was power minister.
The protest, which took place just five minutes after the chief minister left for the airport, saw five to six supporters of Achuthanandan raise slogans praising him and the CPI-M and declaring that Vijayan was corrupt.
As differences between the two key leaders in Kerala sharpen, the politburo has decided to meet Feb 14 to discuss the issue, a senior party leader said.
Achuthanandan, who is also a politburo member and has refused to attend the state-wide Nava Kerala March led by Vijayan, Tuesday denied the politburo's claim that the CBI probe against Vijayan was a political conspiracy.
'The CBI investigation into the case was held under the observation of the Kerala High Court. So, as a chief minister, who is bound to the constitution of the country, I cannot take a stand against the court,' Achuthanandan told reporters.
Party insiders said Achuthanandan's press conference was a message to his supporters to launch a revolt in the party, resulting in Wednesday's minor protest.
Meanwhile, the rift continues to widen.
Addressing a rally in Kerala as part of the march led by Vijayan, Central Committee member and Vijayan confidant E.P. Jayarajan said: 'Pinarayi Vijayan means the communist movement; the present move (by a section in the party) is to finish the communist movement (in the state). And for that they have targeted Vijayan and are trying to finish him off.'
Former CPI-M leader M.V. Raghavan, who was booted out of the party a few decades back, said everyone was waiting for the politburo decision.
'All wish to know if the politburo would wield the axe of discipline on Achuthanandan to protect Vijayan who has been named an accused in a graft case. The rules of the CPI-M are abundantly clear that they just cannot protect a comrade who indulges in corruption,' said Raghavan.
A visibly agitated Vijayan said in Kannur that his party had only one stand.
'Our party has no two opinions because the party is one and that is clearly seen in the response to our yatra,' Vijayan said Wednesday.
Achuthanandan and Vijayan have been traditional foes in the faction ridden CPI-M in Kerala.