Karat or Pinarayi: Who is VS’s Gorbachev?

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer. com published on March 1, 2009

The CPI(M) has fallen
into a deep crisis with observations coming up that the allegation by
octogenarian party leader VS Achuthanandan, Politburo member and Kerala
Chief Minister, that some modern “Gorbachevs” were out to destroy the
CPI(M) was directed more at some persons in the central leadership than
his arch rival in the State unit, secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

Inaugurating
the welfare package instituted by the LDF Government for NRIs in
Thrissur the other day, Achuthanandan said the duty of “Leftists of
Kerala and of India is to ensure that the new Gorbachev do not cause
the ocean (meaning the Communist party) dry up”. His statement was an
indirect reply to Pinarayi’s metaphorical speech – at the valedictory
function of his Nava Kerala March in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday –
quoting an Urdu poet that any leader was powerful only as far as he was
part of the party.

The central leadership, which at first denied
any knowledge of such a statement by Achuthanandan, decided not to
worsen the disputes between Achuthanandan and Pinarayi in the context
of the Lok Sabha election. For public consumption, the leadership said
the dispute was the nothing but an over-enthusiastic exaggeration by
the media. Though the general feeling is that Achuthanandan’s speech
was a direct retaliation to Pinarayi for his statement at the
conclusion of the march, CPI(M)-watchers – and even some party leaders
– are of the view that the metaphor of Gorbachev was directed both at
some persons in the central leadership as well as Pinarayi.

A
senior party leader said that Achuthanandan had been keeping on telling
general secretary Prakash Karat that the new leadership would lead to
the destruction of the party with its inability to take decisions and
actions at crucial junctures. He said Achuthanandan’s call to the
“Leftists in Kerala and India” (not of Kerala alone) was a clear sign
of implying some central leaders. The VS-campers in the CPI(M) had been
complaining that Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai, known in
party circles as simply SRP, had been trying to derive advantage for
himself from the clash between Pinarayi and Achuthanandan. Even some
leaders used to refer to SRP in secret as Gorbachev for his baldness.

According
to observers, ever since Achuthanandan had first demanded the ouster of
Pinarayi Vijayan as secretary for his alleged involvement in the
multicrore SNC Lavalin corruption deal, Karat and SRP had taken a stand
that effectively protected Pinarayi despite the party constitution’s
clause about the action to be taken in such cases. When the CBI filed
the report naming Pinarayi as the ninth accused Karat and some others
in the Politburo decided to support him, even by going to the extent of
saying that the contract was signed with the approval of the party.

Achuthanandan’s
statement about the modern “Gorbachevs’ was a direct declaration that
he was still firm in his stand against Pinarayi, and therefore against
all those who supported him, over the scandal. With the statement, he
had also made clear that his fight against corrupt elements in the
party would go on, come what may.

Even a section in the Pinarayi
camp is now of the feeling that their leader’s metaphorical speech
about Achuthanandan’s prospect of losing power if he stayed away from
the party was unwarranted. A State committee member belonging to the
Pinarayi camp said that there was no need for the secretary to ridicule
Achuthanandan with a metaphor drawn from an Urdu poem when the feeling
was that the Chief Minister had already been defeated.

This
leader said that the Pinarayi had used the metaphor to ridicule
Achuthanandan in the presence of Prakash Karat and SRP, and this had
generated a feeling that the secretary had got their endorsement for
that. “This was very harmful. I must say that nobody in this party has
the right to ridicule a leader like Achuthanandan. You may like or
dislike VS but no partyman can even think of ridiculing VS, who has
given his whole life for it,” he said.

There is also a feeling
among the party workers — not just of the Achuthanandan camp — that
Pinarayi and Prakash Karat had ridiculed the entire people of Kerala by
not getting up when the Chief Minister came on the stage. When the CM
came to the stage escorted by the crowd’s cheering, even the most
stubborn anti-VS leaders like EP Jayarajan had stood up in respect, but
Pinarayi and Karat remained seated. Pinarayi did not even look at
Achuthanandan.

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