The going gets tough for Achuthanandan


Thiruvananthapuram : Going by the tone and tenor of the discussions at the 81-member state committee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), it seems that the going just got tougher for Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

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The CPI-M in Kerala is divided between Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and over the years those siding with the hardliner chief minister have been decreasing.

The feud in the party has been blowing hot and cold ever since Achuthanandan was first denied a seat to contest in the May 2006 assembly polls. It was only after a protest, which appeared to be staged-managed by the media managers of Achuthanandan here, that he managed to get a seat, led the Left to victory and went on to become the chief minister of the state.

Since then his adversaries in the party have tried to play spoilsport. They managed to outsmart him by retaining the prestigious Home and Vigilance portfolio, which normally is handled by the chief minister.

Since then, there have been skirmishes on and off. Finally the politburo intervened in May last year when they took the extreme step of ousting the two from the politburo.

Till October last year, it remained absolutely calm in the party forcing the politburo to reverse their decision and include both again in the highest decision making body of the party.

The meeting Saturday saw two of Achuthanandan’s so-called close associates, private secretary S. Rajendran and his political secretary K.N. Balagopal, lashing out over the way the veteran leader was running the day to day affairs of his office with the help of a coterie.

A state committee member, who was present at the meeting, told IANS that Achuthanandan came under heavy attack.

“Criticisms against his functioning were aired by many and now the next central committee of the party is going to be held here in January when these issues will certainly come up again,” said the leader, requesting anonymity.

What has come as a blessing in disguise for the adversaries of Achuthanandan is that all those who spoke up against the chief minister’s style of functioning belonged to the Achuthanandan camp. One member even asked Achuthanandan to step down.

The absence of Achuthanandan perhaps encouraged many to speak up while senior politburo member and central observer from the party S. Ramachandran Pillai maintained a stoic silence when member after member slammed him.

Even as the meeting was going on, the news of Achuthanandan’s bashing was highlighted by the media. To play it safe the customary press conference was not held, instead a press release was issued where the party strongly came out against the Munnar operations held in May last year by Achuthanandan.

A three member committee headed by Left Democratic Front convenor Vaikom Viswam blamed Achuthanandan of playing to the gallery in the manner in which his handpicked team went about bull-dozing illegal constructions in the picturesque hill station of Munnar in May 2007.

Achuthanandan, who is touring the northern districts, lost his cool when asked about the decision of the party coming out against the Munnar operations.

“You are asking questions on hearsay and I can see through your gameplan because you want an answer from me to create another news,” said Achuthanandan and wound up the press conference late Saturday evening.

With the assembly in session, this issue may well be fodder for the Congress-led opposition.