Guv’s decision puts CPM in a tough spot

via VR Jayaraj | Thiruvananthapuram- Daily Pioneer published on June 7, 2009

The act of Kerala Governor RS Gavai on Sunday to grant permission to the CBI to prosecute State CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavain corruption case should be seen as a huge victory for his party colleague and Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan who has been on a determined bid to unseat him for the past ten years.

Despite the picture of unity the party is trying to project in defending Pinarayi, the State CPI(M) is a divided house and the central leadership also is not in a position to impose controls on the State unit effectively. Also, the Governor’s decision will have serious impact on the ruling LDF in Kerala, as the other partners in the front have been critical of many acts of Pinarayi during the Lok Sabha election, in which the Left suffered shocking defeat.

Achuthanandan has been waging a war against the new trends in the State CPI(M), which have been spirited by the neo-liberalist theories of the official leadership headed by secretary Vijayan. Even when the official leadership has been cutting the Achuthanandan camp in the party to size through carefully designed war strategies, the octogenarian leader has been banking on the SNC Lavalin as his last weapon against Pinarayi and his men.

Achuthanandan had opposed tooth and nail the central leadership’s decision to defend Pinarayi when the CBI report listing him as ninth accused in the case came but those efforts did not succeed as a strong section, including general secretary Prakash Karat, adopted a strange stand that the case was politically motivated.

Achuthanandan had argued that the party would face serious problems if it refused to remove Pinarayi from the post of secretary. He had clearly told the Polit Bureau that the party and the LDF would face problems in the election if Pinarayi continued as secretary even after the CBI’s direct allegation against him.

Even after the central leadership decided to face the CBI charge “politically”, Achuthanandan had openly stated that he would act as per the Constitutional provisions in the case, raising a storm in the party with the official State leadership alleging that the Chief Minister was violating the party directives.

When the State Cabinet took up on May 6 the recommendation of Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad, a CPI(M) nominee known to be close to Pinarayi, not to permit the prosecution of the secretary, Achuthanandan had opposed the other Minister’s decision to accept it. He even said that he would personally meet Governor Gavai to inform him about his opinion, but this was later dropped. Sources close to Achuthanandan now say that he was then sure that Gavai would take the decision he took on Sunday.

Initially, the official leadership was of the belief that the Governor would not formulate a recommendation against the proposal of the Cabinet as this was not done normally. But Achuthanandan had continued to express his opinion directly and indirectly at every available venue, which was more than enough to create a sense of suspicion in the mind of the Governor. He, therefore, sought all possible legal advices on the matter, relying on the Supreme Court’s 2004 verdict that the Governor had the right and power to take a decision of his own on such matters irrespective of the Cabinet’s proposal.

The consequences of the Governor’s decision are decisive for the CPI(M) as new alignments are reportedly taking place within the party. For some time now, the Pinarayi-loyalists have been of the belief that a third force is in the making in the party. Rumours had said that the third PB member from the party, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, was the leader of this third force.

The third force theory had gathered credence after several leaders began to believe that Gavai might in the end decide to permit Pinarayi’s prosecution. The feeling was that such a development would weaken Pinarayi in the party, as the central leadership would be forced to take a stern position because the party could not afford to keep a leader in the secretary’s post even after the CBI chargesheeted him in a huge corruption case.

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