As the case of corruption against Pinarayi Vijayan is still pending in the High Court, the political chapter for VS Achuthanandan is not fully closed
U Gopal Mallar
The Achuthanandan issue has been haunting the CPM for over a decade now. The machinations to render Achuthanandan a persona non grata in the party had begun at the very turn of this century. The most popular leader and crowd puller in the party, Achuthanandan, has been an eyesore to the party bosses in Kerala, especially Pinarayi Vijayan. As the state secretary of the party till February 2015, Pinarayi Vijayan had systematically eliminated the followers of Achuthanandan from all party positions, so much so that practically there is no one to speak for Achuthanandan in any of the party fora.
An astute politician, Achuthanandan is adept at picking up right issues with a perfect timing to present himself as the most virtuous and upright politician. It was with this single but significant strength he could challenge the leadership of the party during the Assembly elections in 2006 and 2011. Contrary to his claims, Achuthanandan is the most power crazy politician in Kerala. On May 25, while participating in the swearing-in ceremony of the government at Thiruvananthapuram, Achuthanandan, who was present at the venue, had given a note to Yechury allegedly containing three demands: 1. He must be appointed as an adviser to the government with cabinet rank. 2. He must be made the chairman of the liaison committee of the LDF. 3. He should be re-inducted into the state committee of the CPM. And the issue has already snowballed into a bitter controversy. To be fair to Achuthanandan, one must admit that, in spite of his advancing age, he was the star campaigner of the LDF during the Elections and even his rank opponents in the CPM had requisitioned his services. He had visited almost all constituencies in the state and the credit for the victory of the LDF to a large extent should go to him.
Even now, according to my perception, Achuthanandan has not lost all hope. How? One may ask. Although the lower court has discharged Pinarayi Vijayan from the SNC-Lavlin case, a Revision Petition by the CBI against his discharge is pending before the Kerala High Court. Since then one Nandakumar, who was instrumental handing over of the case to the CBI by the court, has filed yet another petition before the High Court requesting it to speed up the hearing of the case. In case the court speeds up the hearing and sets aside the lower court order discharging Pinarayi Vijayan, he will be forced to step down from the chief minister’s post. In such a situation, chances are there for Achuthanandan to once again donning the mantle of the chief minister..
It fell to Yechury’s lot to perform the unenviable task to breaking the news to Achuthanandan about the state committee’s unanimously decision to make Pinarayi Vijayan the chief minister. So, to avoid any embarrassment to him, Yechury invented yet another ploy. He flattered Achutanandan by comparing him the Cuban leader Fidel Castro and announced that Achuthanandan would advise the LDF government on policy matters. He also assured Achuthanandan a Cabinet Rank or something, to assuage his ruffled feelings.
In spite of all these precautions, the party is not sure that they have neutralised Achuthanandan. He, on his part, also has given enough hints that he keeps his option open to take on the government at anytime of his choice. As of now, Pinarayi and his ministers, who have just started their innings, are enjoying goodwill among the people. And more than anyone else, Achuthanandan knows this very well. Any move on his part against Pinarayi or his government at this juncture, is bound to boomerang on him. So, a great strategist and past master in politics that he is, Achuthanandan will wait for the opportune time to strike back. And it is this uncertainty that will be the most worrying factor for the CPM and Yechury.
(The writer is a senior columnist)