Munnar: CPM opportunism exposed

via Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on December 7, 2008

The open talk by bureaucrat K Suresh Kumar IPS on how he had been helping Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan in the Government matters in the alleged context of total chaos in his office could have made things worse for the octogenarian leader in the CPI(M), but the position the CPI(M) has now adopted with regard to Mission Munnar anti-encroachment drive of May, 2007 has brought out the extent of opportunism of the Marxist party.

As part of stepping up its attack against Achuthanandan and of supporting the Idukki district leadership which was attacking Achuthanandan in the name of Mission Munnar, a three-member party committee headed by CPI(M) central committee member Vaikom Viswan ‘found’ that the Chief Minister was singularly responsible for all the mistakes in the Munnar operations. The party, which was now finding fault with the Munnar operations, had in May, 2007, had witnessed a running feud between the two prominent camps in it waging a war to claim the credit for the operation.

The report of the Vaikom Viswan committee on Munnar operations, which rejected the stand of the Chief Minister on that issue, said that the Munnar operations often looked like an effort merely to attract the attention of the media. It said the operation had not been launched after comprehensive studies and examinations. It had not considered the problems faced the people, the report said. It added that the Munnar operation could not be taken ahead in its present design.

Viswan’s report also launched a direct attack against Suresh Kumar, who, as Special Officer had headed the first Special Task Force for Munnar operations. It was even alleged that that Suresh Kumar had accepted money from vested interests to defeat the actual objective of the operation. It said that Suresh Kumar had participated in a meeting at Madurai, Tamil Nadu, convened by large-scale encroachers in Munnar to sabotage the anti-encroachment drive.

It is pointed out that the report of the Vaikom Viswan committee is nothing but an ‘invention’ to strengthen the attack against Achuthanandan because the findings of the committee are diametrically opposite to the position adopted by the party during the operation in 2007.

The party, its national leadership and the LDF Government had described the Munnar operations as the biggest achievement of the regime in its first year in office. In fact, party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had worked overtime to claim credit for the operation, which even led to his suspension from the Polit Bureau along with Achuthanandan.

As the operation that started on May 3, 2007 covered a week, there was a popularity wave in favour of the Achuthanandan Government in the State as well as outside, as the mission was described as the first of its kind to re-claim the plundered resources of the people and to re-establish ecological equilibrium, disregarding all threats and machinations of the all-powerful land mafia.

Following the Munnar example, local administration bodies (most of them were ruled by the CPI(M)) across the State unleashed a campaign against encroachers by taking over grabbed lands and demolishing illegal constructions.

Even the Opposition Congress-led UDF was left with no option but to support the Mission Munnar operation as the popularity it got was so huge. The State CPI(M), the LDF it led and even the CPI(M) Polit Bureau endorsed it as the one move that had compensated for all the administrative lapses of the Achuthanandan Government in its first year in office.

The media described Mission Munnar as the greatest achievement of Achuthanandan but the CPI(M), controlled even then by the neo-liberalists headed by Pinarayi Vijayan interfered to establish that this was not the achievement of any single person but the operation was initiated as per the decision of the Cabinet, which had direct instructions from the CPI(M). Vijayan and Achuthanandan had even engaged in an open war of words on this and it led to the suspension of both of them from the Polit Bureau.

But, the official leadership of the party had to change its position after the intolerant district leadership, especially district secretary MM Mani, objected to the operation saying the special task force in charge of the operation was targeting small holders sparing large-scale encroachers. Mani had even gone on to the extent of challenging Achuthanandan to openly resume the operation which had died out once.

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