Advantage Achuthanandan

A significant victory for leader of the opposition and CPI(M) stalwart V S Achuthanandan and a twin setback for the official wing of the Kerala CPI(M) headed by State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. That broadly sums up the upshot of the crucial Politburo and Central Committee meetings of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held recently.

A significant feature of VS’s victory is that the Marxist veteran has averted the possibility of any immediate disciplinary action against him – a persistent demand made by the official wing of the Kerala unit of the party. But even more important is the acknowledgement by both the PB and the CC that the issues raised by him of late need to be discussed in-depth first in the state committee and then at the PB and CC levels. And that the issue of disciplinary action cannot precede such a debate. With that deft decision the central leaders have not only put the ball back in the state leaders’ court but also ensured a much-needed breather for themselves.        

There is no escaping the conclusion that the PB and CC decisions constitute a major setback for  Pinarayi Vijayan and his loyalists who were hell-bent on further humiliating VS by pressing for action against him, including removal from the CC and the position of the leader of the opposition in Kerala.

But the central leadership has not only refused to oblige Vijayan and company but administered a rebuff to them by insisting on a debate on the issues taken up by VS which have acquired added resonance and great relevance in view of the unprecedented crisis the Kerala unit of the party is in the grip of.

The PB and the CC have also refused to implicitly accept the explanations advanced by the Kerala leadership on the crisis created in the wake of the brutal murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader TP Chandrashekharan and arrest of a large number of CPI(M) leaders in connection with the murder. The central leadership has in fact decided to make an independent assessment of the situation – a decision amounting to a virtual declaration of no-confidence in the state party leadership.

As for action against VS, only the PB has the power to act against him as he is a member of the Central Committee. And the PB has made it clear that the statements VS has made of late and his visit to the house of the murdered RMP leader on the day of polling in the  Neyyattinkara by-election was held, do not merit any drastic disciplinary action. That decision must worry Pinarayi and his loyalists no end. It is a clear indication that neither the PB nor the CC is in any mood to oblige the Kerala party secretary by wielding the stick against VS in a hurry.

The state leadership was also pulled up for the delay in taking action against MM Mani, Idukki district party secretary, who threw a bombshell by openly saying that the CPI(M) had resorted to murder of political enemies in the past and would do again if need be.

Now that the state committee has to discuss the issues raised by VS, the scene shifts to Kerala once again.  But this time around, the state committee will have to discuss the issues in full seriousness and refrain from the temptation to make it a VS-hostile session demanding action against the stalwart for so-called acts of indiscipline.         

To put it in tennis parlance, it is advantage Achuthanandan in this round. 
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