Achuthanandan relents, joins rival Vijayan’s march


Thiruvananthapuram : Buckling under pressure from party seniors, Kerala Chief Minister and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member V.S. Achuthanadan Wednesday took part in the concluding programme of a statewide march led by his arch rival Pinarayi Vijayan here.

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Achuthanandan has on several occasions said that he would not be part of the march led by Vijayan, who is the party’s state secretary.

Even Tuesday night, Achuthanandan had brushed aside all questions on the march and said: “Haven’t I made my stand very clear a few times? Why do you want to keep asking the same question over and over again?”

He was the last to arrive on the specially erected dais at the Shanghumukam beach near the airport here. While many on the dais got up to greet the veteran, Vijayan merely looked the other way.

Vijayan, who began his march Feb 2, has been accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of irregularities in awarding a contract to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin when he was the state’s power minister in 1997.

Achuthanandan and Vijayan are known rivals and head the two factions of the party. The chief minister has for long maintained silence over Vijayan’s alleged involvement in the multi-million rupee scam, while most CPI-M leaders had openly defended the state party secretary.

The buzz in the political circles is that Achuthanandan changed his defiant stand as CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, who arrived here early Wednesday, and other Left leaders spoke to the chief minister over the matter.

Inaugurating the meeting attended by a large crowd of party activists, Karat warned the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government against using the CBI to settle scores.

“We will tackle the Lavalin case where our comrade is being charge sheeted both politically and legally,” Karat said.

While Vijayan praised CPI-M workers for standing by the party at a time of distress, Achuthanandan spoke briefly, but said his party was free from corruption.

“We will fight the case legally as and when it comes up in court and we will not fight against the judges. For long our party has been fighting corruption and we all know the various corruption cases that the present Congress-led United Democratic Front leaders are accused in. So it is best they stop crying about corruption,” Achuthanandan said.