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Kejriwal serenades, VS snubs

VS Achuthanandan

New Delhi, Feb. 20: Kerala veteran V.S. Achuthanandan has rebuffed an appeal by Arvind Kejriwal to join him, saying he had been “working for the CPM” since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) boss was a “schoolboy”.

“Mr Kejriwal doesn’t know my political history of 75 years, that’s why he invited me to join. When I began working for the CPM, he was a schoolboy. I have always worked for and supported the CPM,” VS, as Achuthanandan is known, said in Kerala today.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said this was the second AAP offer to the 90-year-old leader. “This is the second time that the AAP has extended an invitation. VS rejected it on the first occasion saying he had been a communist for the last 60 years and would remain a communist,” Yechury said in Delhi when asked about the AAP offer.

Kejriwal had extended the invitation during an interview to a Kerala-based news channel yesterday. Earlier, his party colleague Prashant Bhushan had met VS during a visit to Kerala.

“I would like to appeal to Mr Achutanandan to please join our party… the key enemies of the moment are not individuals, but corruption and communalism,” Kejriwal had said on the channel.

The appeal was seen as part of the AAP’s efforts to secure “credible” leaders to help it spread wings outside Delhi with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections.

Speculation had swirled earlier about a possible AAP approach to Achutanandan, who has been locked in a faction fight for years with state CPM secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and was dropped from the politburo in 2009 over the feud.

The CPM had initially lauded the AAP as an alternative to the Congress and the BJP at the Centre, impressed apparently by its anti-corruption plank that had helped it make a stunning debut in the Delhi polls.

But the Left party turned critical after Kejriwal outlined his party’s economic policies at an event of business chamber CII earlier this week. “We are not against capitalism. We are against crony capitalism,” he had said.

Today, Yechury slammed another of Kejriwal’s statement at the meet — that “the government has no business to be in business”. “He (Kejriwal) repeated what Margaret Thatcher said 20 years ago. Everybody knows what Thatcher did by dismantling public sector units and privatising mines.”

CPM rebel murder

The Congress-led Kerala government today decided to hand over to the CBI the probe into the 2012 murder of rebel CPM leader T.P. Chandrasekharan.

This follows a state police report that a central agency take up the job as some suspects might have overseas links, home minister Ramesh Chennithala said. He added that some CPM leaders were suspected to have helped the accused hide.

Chandrasekharan’s widow K.K. Rema welcomed the move. She had gone on fast recently demanding a CBI probe and called it off only after being assured the government was examining the option.