Tremors in CPM, LDF over Bachchan issue

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on March 21, 2010

The CPI(M) central leadership’s decision to disallow the party-headed Kerala Government to appoint Amitabh Bachchan as God’s Own Country’s tourism brand ambassador in the name of his connections with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has given rise to feuds within the party and the ruling LDF.

“Who is (Politbureau member) Sitaram Yechuri to publicly humiliate Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, another PB member and a Kerala Minister, by shooting down a decision taken by him on a purely Kerala affair? This should not happen in a party which keeps on complaining against sabotage of federal norms by the UPA regime,” was how a senior CPI(M) leader from Kannur reacted to the central leadership’s decision.

The LDF Government is under pressure to drop the move initiated by Tourism Minister Kodiyeri to make Big B its tourism representative following the objections from the central leadership based on the feeling that it could cause a serious dent to the party’s Muslim vote-bank as Bachchan is a man who keeps on praising Modi and also the brand Ambassador of Gujarat. Yechuri said on Friday last that he did not expect the Kerala Government to make Bachchan the State’s representative.

The protests arising from within the CPI(M) against the central leadership could be considered as part of the rampant infighting in the Kannur lobby of the party but the criticisms coming up from its partners in the ruling LDF are even more serious. LDF constituents like the CPI and RSP, which have serious differences with the CPI(M) on almost all important issues, are viewing the controversy as a humiliation to the entire LDF and its Government.

“Who gave the authority to Kodiyeri to invite Bachchan to Kerala for such an important job without even mentioning the matter in the LDF or discussing it in the Cabinet? Again, how can the CPI(M), one of the LDF constituents, cancel a decision taken by the coalition Government? They can play big brother in the front. But they should not consider the coalition Government as their public property,” said a State council member of the CPI.

The RSP, which has been complaining against the hegemonic attitude of the CPI(M) towards minor LDF partners ever since the big brother took over its Kollam Lok Sabha seat in 1999, is even more critical of the Marxists for bringing humiliation to the front and the Government over the Bachchan controversy. TJ Chandrachoodan and K Pankajakshan, RSP’s present and former general secretaries respectively, unleashed scathing attacks against the CPI(M) the other day.

“In the first place, Kodiyeri had no right to unilaterally invite Bachchan, a controversial figure as far as Kerala’s particular political climate is concerned, on the basis of something he said to a television channel, which is known for its pro-capitalist and anti-Left stands. Also, the CPI(M) central leadership should not have spoken against the Kerala Tourism Minister’s decision the way it did. They should have discussed it in the party and then in the LDF if they really wanted to get out of the tangle without damage,” said an RSP leader.

CPI and RSP leaders said they would raise the issue at the appropriate time in the LDF. Though no LDF constituent is in support of making Bachchan Kerala Tourism’s brand ambassador, these two parties view the controversy as an effective weapon to strike against the CPI(M). The RSP is particularly antagonistic towards the CPI(M) for refusing it a Rajya Sabha seat. However, observers are of the view that the rebellion would end as a storm in the tea cup when the issue comes up at the LDF.

At the same time, the Bachchan issue is expected to worsen the fierce war within the Kannur lobby of the CPI(M) led by State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on the one side and PB member Kodiyeri on the other. Already there are allegations that the central leadership, which is said to have been totally bought out by Pinarayi during the war against Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan over the SNC Lavalin corruption controversy, had been forced to take the open stand at his behest.

Kodiyeri, an associate of Pinarayi in the fight against Achuthanandan, has allegedly been cultivating his own group within the CPI(M) using the clout of his PB membership. There were reports that Kodiyeri was handpicked for PB membership by general secretary Prakash Karat during the 19th party congress at Coimbatore as a secret weapon to stop Pinarayi from turning into a totalitarian leader in the Kerala unit.

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