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Assembly polls: Marxists at each other?s throats

Till a few weeks ago, you didn?t need to be a psephologist to predict a walkover for the Left in Kerala?s assembly polls.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 19:06 IST

Till a few weeks ago, you didn’t need to be a psephologist to predict a walkover for the Left in Kerala’s assembly polls. Now, as supporters of hardliner V.S. Achuthanandan and arch-rival Pinarayi Vijayan take the bitter rivalry to more salacious depths—slanderous SMSs, caustic posters—even the most optimistic comrade is running a reality check.

The latest crisis was sparked by the politburo’s decision not to nominate either politburo member V.S. Achuthanandan or party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan as the chief ministerial candidate. Instead, the party has projected the non-controversial LDF convener, Paloli Muhammed Kutty, for the CM’s post. According to unconfirmed reports, VS walked out of the ongoing state committee meeting, having said a big no to party general secretary Prakash Karat’s suggestion to lead the campaign.

The big question is whether he will part ways with the party, although all senior politburo members have reportedly scrambled to pacify him. “At this rate, a split cannot be ruled out,” is how a senior leader summed up the explosive scenario.

The CPM politburo is likely to convene in the national capital on Saturday to take stock of the Kerala situation. Supporters of both camps started flooding mobiles with malicious SMSs while satiric posters have come up against Vijayan and VS. Pinarayi has been dubbed “Pana Rayi” (filthy rich) for his “pro-reform image”. Achuthanandan is the “Durguna Nandanan” (epitome of evil) in this poster war.

Late in the evening, four CPM members of Parliament called on VS. It is not known whether the visit was an expression of support for his stand, or whether they were trying to pacify the recalcitrant leader.

Meanwhile, in Kollam, a journalist from a television channel was assaulted by party cadre, and is in hospital where his condition is learnt to be serious. And in Alappuzha the attempt by one faction to seize the local party headquarters resulted in inter-camp violence in which many workers were reportedly injured.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 19:06 IST