Achuthanandan all set to take Pinarai

published on April 4, 2007


CPM GROUP WAR ALL SET TO ESCALATE


PRADEEP KRISHNAN


Saddled by the consecutive victories of Pinarayi Vijayn, Chief Minister VS Achuthandan and his faction in the CPI (M) have started efforts to recapture the supremacy it had lost in the party after the February 2005 State conference in Malappuram. The decision of the hardliner faction this time is not to repeat the mistakes it committed during the party meet at Malappuram.


One of the immediate reasons behind the move to recapture the party by the group is the humiliation the Chief minister is facing day by day. Achutanandan who is in perpetual enmity with the faction led by State party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is worried over the victories the made by his opponents in getting the ADB loan sanctioned, Smarty City agreement and last but not the least the ‘media syndicate’ controversy. Surprsingly, while the Chief Minister named Malayalam Manorama and Deepika, a daily which whole heartedly supports Pinarayi and decries everything that the Government does, in Pinarayi’s list Deepika finds no mention. Achutanandan is sore that the Party secretary did not utter a word against Deepika, which day in and day out criticizes every action made by him. The other factor that have inspired the VS faction is the all out attempt made by the Pinaryi camp to weaken and eclipse the Achutanandan faction in all the districts.


“We had committed some small faults at Malappuram. We had great expectations on some leaders then. But we were misguided. They shifted their loyalties at the wrong time, and that caused a great setback for us. So we are proceeding carefully to ensure that our plans succeed,” said a VS-loyalist, who is a State committee member of the CPI(M).


The Marxist party leader says that as an aftermath of the Rishiraj Singh episode, the party cadres have got a feeling that the official faction is in the clutches of corruption. “Inside the party, this is a great defeat of the party secretary, as doubts have begun to come out about the political integrity of the official faction,” he said.


The people of Kerala now realize that Achuthanandan is a weak Chief Minister who cannot deviate an inch from the party dictates. All his vigour and courage shown during his days as the opposition leader is now vanished into thin air. His body language has been completely transformed and the Chief minister is now looks like sad, worried and nervous. 


A member of the Alappuzha district committee of the party, who is a VS-loyalist, told this correspondent that Achutanandan faction is in constant touch with several leaders in the Pinarayi camp and have secretly expressed their willingness to stand by the veteran leader during the next organisational elections.


Sources in the party say that despite the momentary supremacy attained by the Pinarayi camp in the party is compelling many Pinarayi-loyalists to think of switching sides. They say that some CDs in the possession of Achuthanandan are scaring them. These CDs reportedly carry hard proofs of financial deals related to kickbacks in the purchase of equipment for the Kairali TV channel, which is controlled by the party.


Though the Chief Minister has no direct involvement in the channel, there are some partymen who are furnishing details of the channel functioning on a regular basis to him. In fact, these partymen do not hold anything against Pinarayi, but they do not like certain businessmen, who are trying to control party affairs. These businessmen are said to be having close relations with Pinarayi and some Kannoor-based leaders. Party insiders hinted at the possibility of large-scale defection from the Pinarayi camp to the VS faction in the near future.


The issue of the KSEB deal with Canadian company SNC Lavalin during the last LDF Government’s tenure also is giving sleepless nights to the Pinarayi camp. The Chief Minister had said that the Cabinet had not given permission to the Advocate General to tell the High Court that there was no need of a CBI probe into the case. What worries the Pinarayi camp is a talk that Achuthanandan has in his possession all the details of the deal, struck when Pinarayi Vijayan was Power Minister.


The Achuthanandan camp is targeting Paloli Muhammadkutty, minister for Local Self-Governments, who had prepared the report on divisionism in the party, which had victimised many VS-loyalists. As Muhammadkutty is answerable for signing of the pact with the Asian Development Bank for the sustainable development project for the five city corporations of the State, he has reasons to worry.


Although there was groupism in the CPM even during the times of Comrade EMS, between the Nayanar-Pinarayi axis of North Kerala and V.S. of South Kerala, the Party was able to tide over it, due to the overbearing stature of EMS and his larger than life image. Since EMS was able to convince the cadre with strong ideological moorings to his political decisions, the party was able to withstand the exit of legendary stalwarts like K.P.R. Gopalan, K.R. Gowri and lastly M.V. Raghavan, the Kannur strongman. Due to EMS’s stature, charisma and commitment, both V.S. and Nayanar did not have the guts to ignore him. Even when V.S. Atchudanandan was defeated due to the machinations of the Kannur lobby (Nayanar, Kodiyeri & Pinarayi), in the CPM red fort of Mararikulam in 1996, to prevent his becoming Chief Minister, EMS was able to retain him in the party by making him State Secretary. But with the deaths of E.M.S. and a moderate Nayanar, the group war has intensified with a do-or-die Kannur lobby uping their ante against the Alapuzha die-hard for the final kill.


As leader of the opposition, V.S. Atchudanandan, despite being a hard-core and a Stalinist, cleverly took up various issues affecting the people like sale of Kovalam Palace to a private hotelier, sandalwood mafia at Marayoor, Mullaperiyar dam issue, sale of girls and sex mafia, land mafia, liquor mafia. This endeared him to the masses, despite his rigid and non-pragmatic approach on undiluted communism. But after coming to power, Achutanandan conveniently forgot all that he said and did, and is now running the government simply as a benami of the party. On the other hand, Pinarayi Vijayan, the State Secretary is the anti-thesis of all what V.S. and old-guard commies stand for. His oppulant life style percolated into the CPM and the party is now the wealthiest commercial empire in Kerala with assets ranging almost Rs.5000 crores with interests ranging from high rise luxurious flats, a state-of-the art TV channel, Newspaper, Magazines, and what not, an aqua-based amusement park and a tourist resort!


When Pinarayi, who was nursing hopes of becoming Chief Minister, denied seat to V.S., the party cadres poured into the streets to register their protest. The Politburo and Pinarayi had to retreat against the upsurge within and V.S. was given the Malampuzha seat. Even after the LDF won, which was essentially a vote for V.S. as C.M. Pinarayi tried his level best to scuttle VS’s chances, but fearing public anger PB and Prakash Karat said no.


During the past ten months of LDF rule governance has not changed much from the UDF rule due to the constant infighting not only between V.S. and Pinarayi groups but also between CPM and other constituents like CPI, RSP etc. The LDF has been moving from controversy to controversy. Fighting over Vigilance Portfolio between V.S. and Pinarayi right hand Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, refurbishment of ministers Bungalow for Rs.17 lakhs, fight between CPM & CPI over appointment of Vice-chancellor to Varsity, self-financing professional colleges Fiasco, Stranding of Prime Minister in a city bye-lane, Chikungunya deaths and ineffective handling by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi, the raid on fake CDs etc. etc. The initial refusal of V.S. to succumb to Pinarayi, had led to the existence of two power centres, operating from the Government Secretariat and CPM HQ AKG centre. Now the Chief minister of the most literate state in India has become helpless and in his cabinet he is surrounded by an entire team ministers, except may be one or two, belonging to the Pinarayi Camp. There is no collective responsibility and Ministers like Thomas Issac and Paloli Mohammedkutty contradict whatever the Chief minister says.


After consolidating his hold over the Government, by making V.S. a mere puppet, Pinarayi’s strategy is total control over the party be eliminating all pro V.S. elements. This was started even prior to polls in April 2006, when the entire V.S. panel was defeated at the Malappuram state Conference and V.S. barely scraped through. Later eight districts were in the control of Pinarayi and six with V.S. When the CPM Alapuzha district secretary died, Pinarayi nominated veteran C.K. Chandrananadan, a V.S. baiter to that post. Moreover four V.S. men where sacked and Pinarayi men nominated to the district committee. Thus V.S. has lost control of his home turf of Alapuzha district. Now only five Southern districts remain loyal to V.S. and it is a matter of time, before it goes to Pinarayi. Also in feeder organisation like CITU, DYFI, SFI, AIDWA, KARSHAKA SANGAM etc. pro VS elements have been purged out. There are even signals that V.S. may be replaced by a pro Pinarayi man.


In order to retain his lost position, Chief Minister V.S. had raked up the ADB loan and SNC-LAVLIN Scam to get one up above Pinarayi in vain. Contrary to the earlier CPM stand, Prakash Karat justified the ADB loan, saying West Bengal has taken almost Rs.3,000 crores. CPM ideologue from JNU and Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board Prabhat Patnaik has also opposed ADB loan under present terms. But finally the CPM and the LDF decided to go in for the ADB loan, completely cheating the people of Kerala.


V.S. had also raked up the SNC-LAVLIN scam linked to the upgradation of the Pallivasal, Panniar, Senkulam power plants to the tune of Rs.370 cores, during the term of Pinarayi as power Minister in 1996-2001 period. Due to a PIL, CBI was asked to investigate. Due to CPM, Karat and Pinarayi manipulations at Delhi, CBI refused investigation. Now in a severe slap to Pinarayi, the Kerala High Court has called for the entire files and asked Kerala, why it is shy of CBI probe. Now V.S. will be only too happy to hand over the probe to CBI as it is linked to his beta-noire.


Angry at V.S.’s stand on ADB and SNC-LAVLIN, Pinarayi has dared to tame the lion in his den. 22 supporters of V.S. were expelled from the party in Mararikulam and Mohamma including. The V.S. group protested by burning Pinarayi’s effigy and shouting obscene slogans. They agitators were brutally attacked by Pinarayi supporters.


Finally a frustrated Prakash Karat had to admit that the party and Government were moving in two directions (i.e. V.S. and Pinarayi) and that the rift was affecting the image of CPM and LDF.


Open Street fights, burning of effigies, blocking of ministers by own men, etc is happening everywhere in Kerala, seriously eroding the credibility of CPM as a cadre based mass party. The LDF has been unable to tackle the major problems of Kerala like unemployment, chaos in education / health sector, deteriorating law and order, activities of financing, drug, liquor, sand, sandal and sex mafia, crisis in the agriculture, tourism, industry sector etc. etc. and last but not least the growing threat of Jehadi extremism, taking strong roots.


While the CPM leaders and cadres are enjoying power, the people are suffering in Kerala. V.S. Achuthanandan is learnt to have adopted a wait and watch policy and is silently working to grab total control of the party. But the stage is all set to witness another round of open group war.


Achuthanandan who has so far successfully withstood attacks by the group led by Vijayan, is finding it increasingly difficult to continue the war, as he is unable to devote much time and energy to party affairs amid busy schedules of a Chief Minister. 


“The efforts of the Pinarayi group led by the party secretary are aimed at spreading a feeling among the party cadre that Achuthanandan is no more a force in the party. They are now trying to spread a feeling that Achuthanandan is nothing but a mere Chief Minister, who will have to act as per the wishes of the party and the front led by it, They want to prove that VS has lost all his political influence in the party and the LDF” the source said.


Meanwhile, a section of the leaders, who do not want to be seen as loyal to either of the two groups, has a feeling that the central leadership is not effectively intervevning to control the fight between the Chief Minister and Polit Bureau member VS Achuthanandan and State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.


“The central leadership still wants to believe that the revalry between the two groups is a conflict of personalities. It is more than that. The central leaderships arguments is that in a Communist Polit Bureau, a provincial unit cannot be waging a two-line struggle independently. Bu the fact is that this is what is happening here. The Polit Bureau will have to treat it like that and will have to settle the issue once and for all,” a State level leader, known not to take sides, said.


The CPM Polit Bureau thinks that divisionism in the party’s Kerala unit has reached dangerous levels, and the central leadership, according to sources, is holding the reformists responsible for the development. “It is not a matter of democratic functioning. No party members doubt the intra-party democracy practiced in the CPI (M)” claimed the source.


In the thickening battle between Pinarayi Vijayan and the Chief Minister and Polit Bureau member VS Achththanandan, the Polit Bureau and the central committee of the party is said to be on the side of the hardliners led by the letter.


If events continue like this, there is going to be a split in the Kerala CPM and V.S. may go out.


Let us wait and watch with joy, the collapse of the CPM, which took the State backwards by almost fifty years and killed hundreds of RSS/VHP/BJP brave-hearts.


 

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