Comrades still out

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 26.06.07
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New Delhi, June 26: The CPM central committee has endorsed the suspension of Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan and state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan from the politburo.

The party council approved the suspension announced a month ago following a public spat by the leaders.

Immediate relief looks unlikely with CPM general secretary Prakash Karat saying the suspension has no time limit.

The two would remain out of the politburo till the central committee revisits the issue at its next meeting, a few months from now. Karat, however, said the two leaders would continue to discharge their functions as chief minister and party state secretary.

Soon after the suspension was announced, Achuthanandan and Vijayan had held their fire with the chief minister saying that “for us, the party is like ours parents or teachers, who punish when their wards commit mistakes. It is part of the correction process”.

The party, however, seems to have decided not to take any chances as low-key skirmishes have been going on between the two factions in the southern state.

Karat focused on the presidential elections when he briefed the media on the outcome of the central committee meeting. He said it was “very improper’’ for Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to “pose” as an Independent candidate.

The Opposition-backed “so-called Independent candidate’’ had a life-long association with the RSS, Jana Sangh and the BJP. Camouflaging that was “not a politically honest position”, Karat said.

The CPM leader recalled that when Shekhawat was the chief minister of Rajasthan, his was among the BJP-ruled state governments that were dismissed after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

On the Vice-President election, Karat repeated the party line that the joint UPA-Left candidate should not be someone from the Congress. But he added: “It is not a hard-and-fast rule.’’

The party wanted “a suitable candidate’’ who would be picked after discussions with other Left and non-Left parties, he said.

The central committee has decided to launch a nationwide campaign against the “exclusion” of the poor from the public distribution system.

The Left has criticised the “elevation” of large chunks of population from the “below poverty line” status, depriving them of subsidised foodgrain.