The CPI(M) Politburo meeting on Saturday ended in a tenuous truce between Kerala chief minister V.S. Achutha-nandan and state general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, both engaged in a fight to the finish. The party hopes the warring veterans will hold fire till the Lok Sabha elections.
Achuthanandan, 86, refusing to toe the party line, wants Vijayan to step down for being named an accused in the SNC Lavalin deal. But CPM chief Prakash Karat told reporters the case against Vijayan was “politically-motivated” and the party would back him all through.
The party pressed some of its senior-most leaders to convince Achuthanandan not to demand Vijayan’s removal till April, the deadline set by the Kerala High Court for the state government to decide on whether it would allow the CBI to prosecute Vijayan.
Asked what stand Achutha-nandan took at the meeting, Karat gave a carefully couched response: “As chief minister, he has to fulfil his constitutional duties in the Lavalin case. But as a party member, the Politburo’s decision to back Vijayan is applicable to him.”
Karat warded off a question on whether this meant the CPM would be up against conflicting courses of action by Achuthanandan. As CM, he may eventually give the nod to prosecute Vijayan but as a Politburo member, he would abide by the party’s decision.
On Friday night, senior leader Sitaram Yechury called on Achuthanandan. The next morning, Buddhadeb Bhatta-charjee and Biman Bose from West Bengal met him.
The CPM may have been able to buy some kind of peace till the elections but it would not be long before Achutha-nandan takes on Vijayan again, a source, who did not wish to be quoted, said. He said the CPM couldn’t put its electoral prospects in Kerala at stake by upsetting Achutha-nandan, a mass leader who could split the party unit.