Tremors in CPM over Nazeer affair

via PNS | Thiruvananthapuram published on December 8, 2009

The arrest of Thadiyantavide Nazeer, LeT’s South India commander, and the subsequent developments in Bangalore, where he was being questioned, and in Kerala are causing tremors in the LDF Government and the CPI(M). Fissures over the approach to the Nazeer affair in the Government and the CPI(M) came out in the open on Tuesday with Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and his Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan taking mutually contradictory positions simultaneously.

Just when Kodiyeri, also a Politburo member of the CPI(M), was trying hard before the Press to justify the act of sending Tomin J Thachankery, Inspector General of Police (Kannur region) to Bangalore to question Nazeer instead of the chief of anti-terror squad, Achuthanandan told newsmen, “The Government has not sent Thachankery to Bangalore.”

When newsmen wanted know on whose decision Thachankery had been sent to Bangalore, the Chief Minister said the media could find out that. As this statement of the Chief Minister came just when his Press conference was on, Kodiyeri tried to play it down saying, “He couldn’t have gone there without anybody’s knowledge. Indeed, the Home Department had known about it,” he said.

When asked for clearer explanation on the Chief Minister’s statement, Kodiyeri said, “What the Chief Minister intended to say could have been that the Government as such had not taken a decision.” The Congress’s response same quickly, with Opposition leader Oommen Chandy saying, the justification for UDF’s allegation that Thachankery was sent to Bangalore to save Nazeer had come from the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister’s own statement came amidst the allegations being raised by the UDF and the BJP over Thachankery’s trip to Bangalore. The BJP had alleged that Thachankery’s mission Bangalore was to bury information about the links between Nazeer and Abdul Nasser Madani, whose PDP was an ally of the CPI(M) in the last Lok Sabha elections and the recent Assembly by-elections.

Trapped in a difficult position due to the Chief Minister’s statement, Kodiyeri tried to explain that there was no need to make a big issue out of it. “There is no need to interpret this (in the negative manner). Interventions in the daily affairs cannot be made after the Government taking formal decisions. What the Chief Minister has meant could be that the Cabinet had not taken a decision (in a meeting),” the Minister said.

The reactions were quick throughout Kerala with protests against Kodiyeri being staged in several places. Youth Congress workers burned the effigy of the Home Minister in Kozhikode, alleging that he was trying to protect terrorists. The BJP responded to the Chief Minister’s statement, saying the political agenda behind sending Thachankery to Bangalore had been exposed. State party general secretary MT Ramesh said that the Government was not sincere in handling terror cases.

Observers interpret the contradictory statements of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister on the Nazeer issue as the reopening of the old group war within the CPI(M), which had subsided after the demotion of Achuthanandan from the Politburo to the central committee in July. “It is not yet clear as to how interested Achuthanandan is on the Nazeer affair and the controversy over Thachankery’s trip to Bangalore,” said a CPI(M)-watcher.

Thachankery, known to be close to the CPI(M) camp opposed to Achuthanandan, has never been in his good books. Immediately after taking over as Chief Minister, Achuthanandan had moved against Thachankery with anti-video piracy raid on the studios in Kochi run by the family of the police official. This had led to a serious squabble in the CPI(M) and general secretary Prakash Karat had to intervene to end a standoff between the Chief Minister and the Home Minister.

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