CPI-M to discuss Kerala feud Saturday


New Delhi : The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Friday said its politburo would discuss the problems in its Kerala unit, regarding a widening rift between two top leaders, Saturday.

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The politburo that met here for a two-day meeting discussed the "overall political situation" and the upcoming presidential election.

"We did not discuss the Kerala issue today. We will discuss it tomorrow," politburo member Sitaram Yechury said, referring to the aggravated internal feud in the party's Kerala unit.

On the presidential polls, another politburo member S. Ramachandra Pillai told IANS: "The Unite Progressive Alliance (UPA) should have a common candidate for the presidential post. We will have to defeat the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)."

Party sources had earlier told IANS that the worsening feud between Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan – who have never seen eye to eye – would figure prominently in the deliberations.

The Achuthanandan-Vijayan battle has acutely embarrassed a party that prides itself for discipline.

A CPI-M politburo member who did not want to be quoted by name admitted that resolving the rift between two had become a "tough task".

"It is becoming an unrelenting problem. Repeated directions from the central leadership seem to have no impact," said the source. CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat has paid several visits to the state but failed to bring peace.

The infighting between the so-called hardliners led by Achuthanandan and the so-called reformists of Vijayan intensified after the chief minister ordered the razing of illegal constructions in the tourist hub of Munnar in Kerala.

In a development that took many by surprise, the chief minister and his bete noire took on each other publicly in Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday. And even one day later they were still in fighting mood.

Before leaving for the national capital to attend the politburo meeting, reacting to Vijayan's allegation that the chief minister did not behave like a "responsible politburo member", Achuthanandan said: "Instead of lecturing me on my behaviour, he should ask himself whether his conduct and comments are expected of a politburo member."

Resolving the differences between the two leaders would be a tough challenge for the CPI-M leadership.

While Vijayan enjoys majority support in the party's state unit, Achuthananandan's public popularity is at its zenith, particularly after he ordered the demolition of illegal constructions on encroached land.

The use of bulldozers and sledgehammers in Munnar has further cemented the chief minister's popular image as no nonsense administrator who has a heart for the poor but will never spare the filthy rich flouting law.

In this, much of Kerala's vibrant media has sided with the chief minister, further angering Vijayan.

Vijayan and his supporters alleged that Achuthanandan is taking the credit for an administrative decision taken by the party-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

According to CPI-M sources, both leaders are preparing the ground to capture the state party in elections at the state party conference this year.