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VS calls truce with rival

March 25: V.S. Achuthanandan has made peace with Pinarayi Vijayan, suddenly drawing the curtains on a decade-long battle between the CPM’s sole surviving founder member and its Kerala state secretary that brought the party to the brink of a split more than once.

The surprise retreat by VS came in an interview to a Malayalam news channel last Thursday. Answering a question, he admitted having differences with the party but said these were over the May 2012 murder of T.P. Chandrasekharan, who led a breakaway group in Onchiyam in north Kerala.

TP, as he was popularly known, was a VS loyalist and had parted ways with the CPM in 2009 following differences with the faction led by Vijayan. The same year, he floated the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) to take on the Marxists in their stronghold.

VS said: “People and TP’s family believed that he was killed by partymen. To an extent, even I believed that. I had sent many letters on this to the party’s central leadership. In the end, the court convicted the henchmen and the party workers who were behind it.”

The CPM’s founder member said when he raised the matter with general secretary Prakash Karat, he had told him “it was never the policy of the party members to kill their colleagues” and promised to expel anyone found guilty by the party’s “internal inquiry”.

While the sessions court ruled in January that the murder was the result of a political conspiracy and sentenced three local party leaders to life imprisonment, the CPM’s “internal inquiry” found only one of the three, K.C. Ramachandran, guilty and said personal enmity was the motive. Ramachandran was expelled.

VS last week lauded this action. “Can any party in India conduct such an inquiry and then act on it?” he asked. “Content with my party’s response, I’m ending differences and we will strive to defeat the threats posed by Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh.”

What this means is VS no longer stands by his widely believed, but never announced, position that there was a deep political conspiracy behind TP’s murder.

In February, TP’s wife K.K. Rema sat on an indefinite fast in Thiruvananthapuram to press for a CBI inquiry into the conspiracy angle and called it off only when the matter was referred to the CBI. VS had written to the chief minister for a central probe.

Now, he has “realised’’ Rema and the RMP were “behaving like a tail of the Congress”. Rema is disappointed but said she believed “he is under pressure from the party to toe the official line as the CPM stands to risk its national party status if it doesn’t perform in this election”. He would revert to his earlier stand, she said.

But K.M. Shajahan, a former VS aide, is not so optimistic. “If a person who has been taking a principled position for years suddenly swallows his words without rhyme or reason, there has to be some motive.”