In a repeat of 2006, bowing to intense pressure from the party rank and file, the CPI(M) on Friday reversed its decision to deny an assembly seat to outgoing Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan.
VS will contest from his sitting seat, Malampuzha, in Palakkad district.
The party state committee, where his arch foe, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan enjoys a majority, had denied a seat to him on Wednesday. The party’s apex body, the Politburo, however, after holding two rounds of discussion in Delhi, instructed the state leadership to reverse its decision and accommodate the CM in the candidates’ list.
The move to dump the CM had evoked widespread protests in the state. Many district committees also openly decried the decision. Upset, the CM had holed up in his official residence for the last two days.
VS supporters burst crackers and distributed sweets at several places as the news trickled in. “He’s the most respected leader of our party,” Pinarayi said while announcing the list of party candidates. He, however, ducked questions about the intense drama enacted in the party over the last two days.
When asked who would lead the party, VS or home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (also a PB member), he did not give a specific reply.
In the ‘available’ Politburo in Delhi many members expressed their displeasure over the way general secretary Prakash Karat, who attended the state secretariat and state committee meet along with another member S Ramachandran Pillai, remained a silent spectator when VS was dropped.
Sensing trouble for VS in the state committee meet, it is learnt, the PB had thought of a contingency plan to accommodate him in the list. But Karat failed to intervene at the critical juncture when VS was axed. This forced the PB to prevail over the state committee again.
The 87 year old is the best bet for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) when its prospects are looking bleak.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and subsequent civic elections the party had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). VS has retrieved the position a bit by taking up many burning issues like corruption and sex scandals.
In a pre-poll survey conducted last week he was rated as the most popular leader of the state. But when his popularity grew immensely, his opponents in the party were skeptic and desperate to rein in him.
The veteran, however, has had the last laugh.
Releasing the candidates’ list Pinarayi said the party would back seven independents. Other prominent leaders in the fray are Kodiyeri from Thalasserry, Finance Minister Thomas Issac in Alapuzha and Speaker K Radhakrishnan in Chelekkara.
The party has dropped three ministers this time.
Inputs from New Delhi