Aiming to put an end to the squabbling in its Kerala unit, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Sunday removed Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan from the party politburo while firmly backing his arch rival, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.
The CPI-M Central Committee, ending its two-day meeting on the Kerala issue here, stated that Vijayan "was not involved in any corrupt practice whatsoever" and also reiterated the party's resolve to fight the corruption case against him "politically and legally".
In an open admission of the rift in its Kerala unit, the Central Committee, the highest decision making body of the CPI-M, also said that the "Kerala State Committee should unify the entire party" in the state.
The Central Committee chided Achuthanandan for violating party discipline in his demand that Vijayan be tried over the SNC Lavalin corruption case. It said the party had "expected Comrade V.S. to fulfill his responsibilities as the chief minister and as a leader of the party".
The Central Committee statement said: "The Central Committee decided that in view of the violations of the organisational principle and discipline by Comrade V.S. Achuthanandan, he should be removed from the politburo. Comrade Achuthanandan is the senior most leader who has made a big contribution to the Party in Kerala. The Central Committee expected Comrade V.S. to fulfill his responsibilities as the chief minister and as a leader of the Party.
"The Central Committee examined the report submitted by the politburo on the SNC Lavalin contract for the renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectric projects in Kerala which were entered into by the UDF (United Democratic Front) government in 1995-96 and which were subsequently implemented by the LDF (Left Democratic Front) government. The Central Committee is of the view that Com. Pinarayi Vijayan, secretary of the Kerala State Committee and the electricity minister in the then LDF government between 1996-98 was not involved in any corrupt practice whatsoever. The Central Committee reiterated that the Party will fight the case politically and legally."
Achuthanandan had been demanding that Vijayan be removed as state secretary since he has been named an accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rs.374 crore SNC Lavalin corruption case.
The Vijayan faction, in retaliation, demanded that disciplinary action be taken against Achuthanandan for "violating party discipline".
Twelve of the 85 members of the central committee are from Kerala.
The CPI-M central committee election review meeting held earlier had held the state leaders guilty for the party's rout in the Lok Sabha polls. The party had won just four of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala.