Kerala Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo (PB) member V.S. Achuthanandan rubbished his party’s official position that a corruption case against party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was “politically motivated”. This may well be the beginning of the endgame in the CPM factional fight in Kerala, leading to the exit of the 86-year-old CM from the party.
The CBI has sought the Kerala government’s permission to file a chargesheet against Vijayan for alleged corruption (see box). The CPM has defended Vijayan — the first politburo member to face a chargesheet for corruption — saying that the Congress government at the Centre is using the CBI to settle political scores.
In a daring move, Achu-thanandan has rejected the party view and virtually endorsed the chargesheet against Vijayan, with whom he is locked in a long-drawn war of supremacy. “The CBI inquiry was instituted by the Kerala High Court. The court was closely monitoring the case at each stage. If I am questioning that investigation, that will amount to questioning the court. And I cannot do that,” he said, closing all options for negotiations with Vijayan and the central leadership.
The CM is isolated in party committees, but has a huge following among ordinary workers and commoners. By calling for a showdown on the issue, he has put his party on the defensive.
The Chief Minister said the Kerala cabinet would take an appropriate decision on the CBI request for permission to file the chargesheet. Reminded that the party has already rejected the demand for prosecuting Vijayan, he shot back: “They may have reasons for saying that. You could ask them and find out why they said it.”
Achuthanandan added that “as a chief minister who has sworn by the Constitution of India, I cannot run down an investigation monitored by the high court”.
The Chief Minister is also keeping off a statewide yatra now underway under the leadership of Vijayan.