ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Achuthanandan's Splendid Isolation

The relationship between veteran leader V S Achuthanandan and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has reached a new low, but neither he nor the party are willing to part ways amicably. After walking out of the party's state conference in Alappuzha in February, Achuthanandan has been consigned to the sidelines. This has been the culmination of a process partly of his own making and partly of the party's making--one involving too many convenient compromises, and a political line that now values pragmatism above all.

At long last, V S Achuthanandan is out of the reckoning in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]). VS, as he is addressed in party circles in and outside Kerala, is most likely to fade out of the political scene, something for which he should share part of the blame. If Prakash Karat, the party’s general secretary, expressed the hope at a party rally that VS would return to the party and remain with it, it was more as a courtesy than anything else. The CPI(M) has treated VS with kid gloves for a long time; if it continues to do so even now, it is probably because it feels that it is a better way of ensuring he loses whatever credibility he has among fellow travellers outside the fold. It makes sense for the CPI(M) to do this with elections to local self-government bodies coming up this year and to the state assembly in about 15 months. In a state where victory margins in assembly constituencies are thin, the party cannot afford to throw him out, granting him the halo of a victim. And by not quitting the party, even at this stage, Achuthanandan, who is 91, seems to be helping the CPI(M).

The developments involving the veteran leader (perhaps the only one alive among the 32 central committee members who walked out of the CPI to found the CPI(M) in 1964) during the three-day conference of the Kerala state unit of the party in Alappuzha (20–23 February) seemed to bring the curtain down on a drama that had been going on for more than a decade. From a time when the CPI(M)’s rank and file would dismiss any talk of faction feuds as propaganda by a bourgeois press, things have changed in the past decade. There was no denial factions existed in the party and the high point came when VS, as chief minister, played an active role in setting up a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry into the role of Pinarayi Vijayan, the party’s state secretary, in the SNC Lavalin deal.

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