With the two-decade-old palm oil import scam case leaving its stain on PJ Thomas’s job as central vigilance commissioner, Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan on Thursday was quick to claim all the credit.
“I took up the case and fought it alone all these years,” he said after hearing the Supreme Court verdict declaring Thomas’ appointment illegal. Achuthanandan also demanded home minister P Chidambaram’s resignation for his responsibility in giving Thomas the post. He said Chidambaram had said on occasions that Thomas was exonerated in all cases.However, the CM offered a much tamer response when reminded that he had promoted Thomas as the state chief secretary in 2007, which eventually led to his Central deputation in 2009.
“More than two-dozen IAS officers came to me citing his (Thomas’) case. A ruler can’t go ahead antagonising the entire IAS lobby. I was forced to budge,” Achuthanandan said.
The CM made it clear to his party, the CPI(M), that it could not make the palm oil case a poll plank without taking him into confidence.
Initially, the party state unit was not in favour of giving ticket to the CM, who was demoted from the Politburo last year for not toeing the party line. If the party denies him a seat, it runs the risk of being embarrassed by his actions — one of which could be playing the martyr.
In the last five years, Achuthanandan has given anxious moments to the party, often distancing himself from official positions. He remains the CPI (M)’s biggest crowd-puller.