Intro: A rudderless and splintering Congress cannot step into the vacuum which the CPM has created in the State. Now it is the duty of the BJP to make use of this unprecedented situation in the political history of Kerala.
CPM is facing the worst factionalism the history has ever witnessed. VS Achuthanandan, party’s senior most living leader, Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly and former Kerala CM, left P Krishna Pillai Nagar, the venue of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) State conference in Alappuzha, and went to his own house a stone throw away from the site. He told his General Secretary Prakash Karat that he was leaving. He told his confidants that he could not sit back and tolerate the sharp criticisms showered by speakers after speakers. He was referring to the discussions on the report that the State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had submitted before the 600 strong delegates.
A few weeks back VS wrote a letter to the central leadership, not clear whether to Polit Bureau (PB) or Central Committee (CC), blaming Pinarayi for several reasons. Interestingly such a confidential letter was carried by Malayala Manorama daily. A newspaper which CPM has been fighting tooth nail since the last several decades. They call it bourgeois media.
However, Achuthanandan reached Krishna Pillai Nagar, the State conference venue in Alappuzha and hoisted the conference flag as per the schedule, on February 21. But, when the discussion on the report started, delegates started criticising Achuthanandan in harsh words. When mounting criticisms kept on repeating from delegates, Achuthanandan reached at his wit’s end. When the delegates dispersed for tea break, Achuthanandan told Karat that he was leaving; he went to his village home in Punnappra. The whole Krishna Pillai Nagar was in surprise. He refused to meet the media.
Chandran Pillai and S Sharma, both considered to be Achuthanandan loyalists, were deputised for the State leadership to meet Achuthanandan and persuade him to come back to the conference. But, Achuthanandan maintained that the parts of the secretariat resolution which bear derogatory remarks about him and pictured him as an anti-party man should be removed and the culprits in TP murder case should be expelled from the party before his return to Krishna Pillai Nagar.
Achuthanandan told the confidants who visited him that he would not compromise on the pro-people stands he has been taking. He speaks for the people, but no CPM leader listens to him. He cannot agree to political attacks and killings. Three CPM workers are implicated in connection with TP Chandrasekharan murder. But, party has taken disciplinary actions against only one of them. It is impossible to go with those who glorify the killers. PB Member Sitaram Yechury called him at Thiruvananthapuram and agreed to his arguments that State secretariat resolution against him was contrary to the organisational ethics as Achuthanandan was a central committee member hence PB would not accept it; it should not have been conveyed to the media. But, he did not comply with Yechury’s invitation to return to the conference.
Later on Karat called him; still he opted not to go back to the conference venue. The only concession he agreed to do was not to convene a press conference to explain his stand. Instead he distributed a press release, that too with the concurrence of the central leadership.
In the meantime as Pinarayi Vijayan stepped down from the State secretaryship after 16 years, his blue eyed boy Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has taken over as the new secretary. Despite wearing a mild face, he is expected to toe the Pinarayi style hence Achuthanandan does not enjoy a chance to have soft treatment from the new regime. New secretary told the media that Achuthanandan’s rejection of Karat’s request to return to the conference was not at all a Communist stand.
Achuthanandan’s only hope is now pinned on the possible elevation of Sitaram Yechury as the new national general secretary. Yechury, Brinda Karat and S Ramachandran Pillai are said to be Achuthanandan’s sympathisers in PB. Achuthanandan’s rebellion is really a rude shock to the CPM party apparatus in Kerala. He staged the walkout from Krishna Pillai Nagar minutes after Karat told in his address before the delegates that Kerala is the strongest State unit of CPM in the country. Political observers believe that Achuthanandan mutiny will add insult to the injury of the already demoralised party rank and file in the State. Party demolition in Bengal, set back in Tripura local bodies’ elections, microscopic minority status in the Parliament, faction fights in Kerala, recurring pitiable agitations against the Kerala Government which are launched with fanfare and withdrawn under flimsy alibis and thousands of party cadres refusing to renew party membership, etc. are adding fuel to the fire in which the party has been trapped in.
—T Satisan from Kochi