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Catch-22 situation for CPI-M in Kerala

June 19, 2009 12:40 IST

Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan (popularly known as VS), is banking on 'outside support' in an intense battle against his own state Communist Party of India-Marxist unit. Leaders from other state units are coming to VS's aid ahead of the party's crucial Central Committee meeting even as some ministers of his Cabinet have refused to work with him.

The Kerala CPI-M unit, led by VS's bete noire state unit president Pinarayi Vijayan, is mounting pressure on CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat to remove Achuthanandan from the chief minister's post and, if possible, from the party altogether. At least seven CPI-M ministers in VS' cabinet, all belonging to the Pinarayi camp, have told him that it is not possible to work under VS anymore.

Achuthanandan had been continuously defying the party line on the SNC-Lavalin corruption case in which Pinarayi is the main accused. Pinarayi's followers are hopeful that VS will be shown the door after the party's Central Committee meeting in Delhi on June 20 and 21.

But now, the pro-VS camp in the CPI-M -- his 'outside supporters' from other state units -- is citing the party's stand on Lalu Prasad's fodder scam to bail out VS. "After Prasad was given the charge sheet, although he was a close ally of the CPI-M, the party took the stand that he must step down. So now when Pinarayi has also been given a charge sheet by the CBI in the SNC Lavalin case, why shouldn't he step down too," asked a Central Committee leader.

A politburo member told Business Standard that despite pressure from the Kerala unit, the forthcoming Central Committee meeting might decide not to take any major action against VS. "He enjoys tremendous mass support. It will send a wrong message if VS is punished and Pinarayi continues to enjoy the patronage of the central leadership," said another CC member.

Karat is now under pressure as ministers like M A Baby and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are refusing to work under VS. Finance Minister Thomas Issac came to Delhi a couple of days ago and told the same to Karat and politburo member S R Pillai.

Saubhadro Chatterji in New Delhi