The Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) move to drop Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan from politburo has brought cheer to his detractors, but his die-hard supporters have openly rallied behind him.
The party's effort to end the growing factionalism in the state unit, thus, appears likely to further deepen the rift within the party.
The CPI-M state unit is racked by the running feud between the 85-year-old hardline chief minister and the party's state unit boss Pinarayi Vijayan.
Within hours of the CPI-M's central committee deciding to censure Achuthanandan for not toeing the party line, posters rooting for the chief minister came up at many places in Kerala.
Posters put up by his supporters at Pallakad, Kollam and here read: "VS, you are right and we are with you."
State Power Minister and senior CPI-M leader AK Balan, however, maintained that Achuthanandan's demotion is just a corrective measure.
"This is the best decision that could be arrived at by the central leadership and this is going to be accepted by both the cadre and the people in Thiruvananthapuram. He is certain to accept the decision and will do nothing wrong," said Balan.
CPI-M state committee member and veteran trade union leader MM Lawerence said over the years the party has taken up corrective measures and this is just a continuation of the same.
"I fully believe when Achuthanandan says that he will abide by the party decision and he is sure to keep his word," said Lawerence.
The feud between the two started when Achuthanandan was denied a ticket to contest elections to the state legislative assembly in 2006. An uproar by party cadres forced the CPI-M to reverse the decision.
Achuthanandan later led the party to victory and became the chief minister, much against the wishes of Vijayan and his loyalists. Since then it has been a cat and mouse game between the two leaders, leaving the state party in virtual shambles.
Things came to a head when Vijayan was named as an accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a Rs 374-crore corruption case for awarding tenders for renovation of hydel power stations to a Canadian firm.
Vijayan had signed the deal with the Canadian company SNC Lavalin when he was the state power minister in 1997.
Achuthanandan surprised all in the party when he said that Governor RS Gavai had done nothing wrong by giving nod to the CBI to prosecute Vijayan when the party termed it as a "politically motivated move".
T Sivadasa Menon, former finance minister in late Marxist leader EK Nayanar's ministry, said that it was for Achuthanandan to decide if he wanted to continue as chief minister after the party leadership removed him from politburo.