CBI, CAG no more holy cows for CPM
For the proletarian party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were holy cows not too long ago, reports Ramesh Babu.india Updated: Feb 10, 2009 04:26 IST
For the proletarian party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were holy cows not too long ago. If there was any kickback or cover-up, the CPM was the first to demand a CBI probe. Its faith in the central agency was unflinching. But now the CBI and CAG are the most hated organisations and its leaders are busy mobilising party cadres to fight both.
It is “Criminals’ Bureau”, thundered Kerala Cooperation Minister G Sudhakaran, known for his acerbic tongue. Party central committee member EP Jayarajan went a step further: “Scoundrels, we will take them on in the streets.” Since the days of Bofors controversy, the CAG was very dear to CPM. But in 2005 when the CAG found serious irregularities in the state’s Rs 374-crore deal with Canadian power company Lavalin, it became a villain. Vijayan was power minister then, and is suspected of having received kickbacks to award the contract to Lavalin. But the CAG is now anathema for many in the CPM. “It is a body to waste tax payers’ money. Can you cite a single case in which CAG findings were proved right in a court of law?” argued another leader.
The CAG and CBI fell from grace after the party received the Lavalin shock. Left in the lurch, the party is using every possible means to defend its beleaguered general secretary of the party’s Kerala unit Pinarayi Vijayan. But more than the Opposition onslaught, the party is facing a siege within -- the 12-year-old power kickback now threatens to split the party vertically.
Taciturn and often inflexible, Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan has refused to toe the party line. When he smelt corruption everywhere, the party had backed him to the hilt. He was instrumental in filing almost a dozen corruption cases – in the palm oil case against former Chief Minister K Karunakaran of the Congress, corruption cases against former Power Minister R Balakrishna Pillai and the notorious ice-cream parlour sex racket. In his eager to take up popular issues he forgot that the party is above personality. When he disagreed with the CPM on a number of issues such as the Asian Development Bank loan, the party gave him a long rope. Now the party is finding it difficult to rein him in. In his autumn, the veteran -- the only living founding member of the party in the state -- is at the crossroads.
Sensing trouble, most of his men have deserted him. But he’s in no mood to relent. He has given enough hints that he will not go down without a fight. Now all eyes are on the CPM Politburo meeting on February 14.
As both camps (those of the chief minister and the party secretary) have very far over the issue, it will be difficult for the central leadership of the CPM to find a quick-fix solution. At the same time, it cannot allow the controversy to lie unattended till the Lok Sabha elections.