The CPM averted a showdown in the Kerala unit of the party on Wednesday by ensuring Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan’s presence in the concluding session of the statewide ‘Nava Kerala’ rally.
Till the last moment, Achuthanandan gave clear signals that he wouldn’t be part of the rally led by his archrival, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who is one of the accused in the SNC Lavalin kickback case. But in the end, he followed the party diktat.
Earlier in the day, many central leaders called him and requested him to avert a showdown. The CM was upset with the Politburo backing the scam-hit party secretary. He felt that a soft approach towards Vijayan would dilute the party’s fight against corruption.
The SNC-Lavalin power scandal is one of the biggest scams that rocked Kerala. A Comptroller and Auditor General report indicted the CPM-led government of the mid-1990s for a Rs 374.50-crore loss to the exchequer due to a deal with the Canadian firm.
Vijayan figured as the ninth accused in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheet as he cleared the deal as the power minister.
In Wednesday’s rally, Achuthanandan was careful in his brief speech. But he made it clear that the party would continue its fight against corruption.
He reminded Vijayan indirectly that the accused would get a chance to prove his innocence in the court of law. But Vijayan, without taking the CM’s name, said, “There is no leader without his party. If someone thinks personality is above party, nobody can help him.” In his inaugural speech party general secretary Prakash Karat launched an attack on the UPA government, while reiterating that the party would fight the Lavalin case politically and legally.