VS Achuthanandan takes on CPM 'official' faction again

Leader of the Opposition in Kerala V S Achuthanandan has again struck a defiant note against his party’s “official” faction in the state by approaching the CPM Politburo over alleged irregularities in the sale of property owned by the party mouthpiece.

Achuthanandan, who has been at loggerheads with the party’s state leadership over a host of policy issues, sent a note to the Politburo seeking a probe into the sale of a 32-cent (0.32-acre) property owned by party mouthpiece Deshabhimani in Manjalikulam in Thiruvananthapuram.

The party has been facing criticism over the sale of the land, allegedly to controversial businessman V M Radhakrishnan, even as top leaders maintained that the land was not sold to him. The leadership is cornered by allegations that Danish Chacko, who bought the land for a reported price of Rs 3.5 crore, was a benami — used as a front by Radhakrishnan for the proxy sale.

Radhakrishnan is facing charges of criminal intimidation in connection with the death of Malabar Cements employee V Saseendran and his two sons.

Saseendran, a company secretary in the state government undertaking, had reportedly fought corruption in the company.  Radhakrishnan’s links with the party had last hit headlines during the CPM plenum held at Palakkad in late November last year, when the businessman released an advertisement for his company in Deshabhimani.

Achuthanandan has apprised the Politburo of the land sale, which he claimed did not have the approval of the state committee. The party’s decision to sell the land to the tainted businessman at a low price has to be probed, said the CPM veteran in the note.
According to sources, Achuthanandan has also criticised the party’s move to ally with BJP rebels in Kannur district.

Achuthanandan has kept a low profile after state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was removed from the list of accused in the SNC-Lavalin graft case, a development that bolstered the official faction and reined in Achuthanandan's supporters. Vijayan has already dismissed allegations of irregularities in the sale.

The opposition leader’s move ahead of the general election could bring back ghosts of factionalism in the party.

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