CPI(M)’s changing dynamics

There is no mistaking it: the growing support for V S Achuthanandan in the state committee of the Kerala Communist Party of India (Marxist). That is the most significant aspect of the just-concluded meeting of the state committee. Also, the most visible sign of the changing dynamics of CPI(M) politics.

Ever since the Kottayam conference of the party, Achuthanandan had had to function as a one-man army fighting to correct the wrong policies of the state leadership. That is no more the situation. For the first time since the Kottayam meet, a number of leaders spoke in support of Achuthanandan in the state committee. Reports have it that as many as eight state committee members, including Achuthanandan’s known supporters like P K Gurudasan, M C Josephine, S Sharma and K Chandran Pillai, summoned up the courage to stand up and be counted.

Not that they were totally uncritical of Achuthanandan’s stance. They wanted Achuthanandan to desist from indulging in violation of party discipline. But these leaders were also strongly critical of the state party leadership’s tackling of the post-Chandrashekharan murder situation. Most importantly, they also suggested that the leadership adopt a softer approach to Achuthanandan and strive for a consensus at a time when the party is facing an unprecedented crisis.

This being the ground reality, the central team led by general secretary Prakash Karat, who were present at the state committee and state secretariat meetings, will have to keep in view the stirrings of a change in the state party while taking a decision on matters pertaining to the problems plaguing it. In this connection the report the central team will submit to the politburo will have a vital bearing on the final decision on the Kerala unit. Against this backdrop, the impending PB and central committee meetings, which will discuss the team’s report acquire, added significance.

The deliberations of the state secretariat and state committee, as expected, followed a predictable pattern with the official leadership, headed by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, reiterating its demand for disciplinary action against Achuthanandan and the latter making a spirited defence of his stance.

In view of the extreme importance the issues raised by Achuthanandan have acquired, a closer look at the debate in the state secretariat and state committee is in order. In the meeting, Vijayan and his loyalists squarely blamed Achuthanandan for the party’s defeat in the Neyyattinkara by-election. It was Achuthanandan’s visit to the house of murdered Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T P Chandrashekharan on the polling day which turned the tide in favour of the United Democratic Front candidate, they contended.

On his part, Achuthanandan vehemently denied the charge. The Left Democratic Front candidate lost because of the CPI(M)’s ambivalent stand on the murder issue and the attempts the party made to block police investigation into the murder, he pointed out. These attempts gave the impression that the party had something to hide, he said.

Again, the state leadership has been unable to explain the arrest of a large number of party leaders in connection with the murder even as it denied any involvement in it. If the party was not involved in the brutal murder, why did a number of party leaders go into hiding? Also, three of the accused were taken into custody from a jungle hideout deep inside what is known as a ‘party village’ in Kannur district. It has also become abundantly clear during the interrogation that some of the accused visited a party office immediately after the dastardly deed.

Achuthanandan is also learnt to have denied any acts of indiscipline. He asserted his efforts have all along been to correct the wrong policies being pursued by the state leadership on the plea that as a senior party leader it was his duty to do so.

In the event, Achuthanandan seems to be in a stronger position after the state committee meeting. The fact that a number of leaders stoutly defended Achuthanandan cannot be ignored by Vijayan and his close aides who have been obsessively advocating action against the stalwart. In view of the altering ambience within the party, the leadership would do well to shed its intransigence in the matter and sincerely try to evolve a consensual approach. Failure to do could have grave consequences for the Kerala unit of the party beset by the most serious crisis since its inception.
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