Kerala CPM's fratricidal war nearing a climax

 Karat’s stand during the upcoming party central committee and politburo meetings will decide whether he is sincere about setting right the ills that have distanced the party from its traditional supporters in Kerala.

What could make the job tougher or easier for him is the much awaited governor’s sanction for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to proceed or not against party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin corruption case.

The party has grudgingly acknowledged that its tactical alliance with Abdul Nasser Madhani’s People’s Democratic Party and the quarrel with Janata Dal (S) had boomeranged for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the Lok Sabha elections. The front has been reduced from 19 MPs to four MPs in the present Lok Sabha.
While Vijayan has to share the blame for this, not many dispute the fact that Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan’s actions and statements had also considerably harmed the CPM-led front’s chances.

Many CPM sympathisers admit that both Vijayan and Achuthanandan have become more of a liability for the party rather than being assets. They would love to see the party redeeming itself of its self-destructive tendencies by stripping Vijayan of the party post and Achuthanandan of the CM’s gaddi.

But this is easier said than done as Vijayan enjoys brute majority in the state secretariat and state committee while Achuthanandan is seen as a crusader by a large section inside the party as well as outside.

With Achuthanandan’s supporters virtually reduced to a few in the state secretariat and state committee, the chief minister has been fretting and fuming outside the party against the sidelining of his supporters. In an unprecedented manner, he had challenged the party’s official stand directly or indirectly on various issues at news conferences or public functions.

The party has now officially indicated that there has been violation of Leninist organisational principles by ‘certain quarters’. Traditionally, this violation is a serious offence and one which could even invite expulsion.

“In our party, opinions and views can be aired at the appropriate fora, but once the party takes a stand, there cannot be a different opinion,’’ has been the party’s oft-repeated stand.

Using party as a shield

Vijayan’s writ would have prevailed unquestioned but for the ghost of his tenure as power minister returning to haunt him in the form of a corruption case in the SNC Lavalin deal. Instead of facing the charges legally, Vijayan has portrayed the case against him as one against the party. Even Karat has been blindly parroting Vijayan’s stand that the case is politically motivated.

While Vijayan battles Achuthanandan on one hand, the LDF allies have changed their stand after the elections. The CPI now says that it does not support the CPM’s claim that the Lavalin case is politically motivated.

The CPM has got the Advocate General to advise the government not to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute Vijayan in the case. However, Governor Gavai is in no mood to blindly okay the government’s recommendation and is consulting legal experts as well as the CBI to clarify certain points raised by the AG.

If the governor rejects the government’s recommendation, it will provide a ‘golden’ opportunity to Karat to get into the act.

However, any move to strip Vijayan of the party post will have to be followed by removal of Achuthanandan also from the CM’s post. This will be relatively an easier task for Karat, given the barrage of accusations and charges of indiscipline against Achuthanandan contained in the election review report submitted to the politburo and the central committee.

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