CPI-M likely to crack the whip in Kerala


Thiruvananthapuram : Rocked by corruptions scandals and with factionalism at its peak in the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the ongoing party meetings may see the top brass crack the whip to rein in erring members.

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Party general secretary Prakash Karat, senior politburo members S. Ramachandran Pillai and Umanath attended the state secretariat meeting Thursday and are said to have asserted that certain actions had to be taken to keep the party intact in Kerala, irrespective of the strength of rival factions.

The CPI-M here is deeply divided between Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, with the latter having near absolute control of the crucial state committee meeting.

Despite the massive support that Vijayan has, certain fissures developed in his camp after two corruption scandals rocked party mouthpiece Deshabhimani.

In the first one, a top party official attached to the publication was suspended for allegedly accepting Rs.10 million from a financial house that went broke. In the other, the mouthpiece reportedly accepted Rs.20 million from a lottery giant as deposit.

The party state secretariat later gave a clean chit to E.P. Jayarajan, a central committee member of the party, and absolved him of charges of accepting money from the lottery agent.

Jayarajan is a close aide of Vijayan and also general manager of Deshabhimani.

But reports indicate that four Vijayan aides, including Ministers M. A. Baby and Thomas Isaac, took a different stand when the issue came up at Thursday’s meet. They did not defend Jayarajan and in fact said the controversy had caused serious loss of face to the party.

The sudden volte-face by these four leaders has brought cheer to the rival camp led by Achuthanandan.

Tensions again rose when the Vijayan-backed Kairali TV channel interviewed controversial businessman Farris Abubacker, who lashed out at Achuthanandan. The interview was aired after the chief minister termed Abubacker a “hated” person and criticised one of Vijayan’s aides for reportedly taking Rs.6 million from Abubacker for the Nayanar memorial football tournament in Kannur.

While the state secretariat meeting ends Friday, the state committee meet is to begin Saturday. And the next three days are headed for stormy party sessions with the politburo leaders likely to take action against those who have erred.