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CPM axes veteran on women's complaints

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OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 03.07.11, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, July 2: The CPM in Kerala today expelled senior leader P. Sasi following allegations of sexual misconduct levelled by women members of the party.

The action against the veteran leader is the latest embarrassment for the CPM after its defeat in the state and in Bengal.

Sasi was a state committee member and district secretary of party bastion Kannur. He had also served as political secretary of former chief minister E.K. Nayanar.

Party general secretary Prakash Karat, who appeared embarrassed when asked to comment on the action, sought to sidestep the issue, hinting the central leadership had no role to play in the expulsion.

“State committees take decisions independently. Where do we figure…?” Karat mumbled when the question popped up during a briefing on the Lokpal bill.

The Sasi issue has been simmering for the past few months. He was removed as district secretary of Kannur and demoted to a branch committee before the Assembly polls.

Party sources said two complaints, one in writing and the second informally, had been lodged against Sasi. In the first case, the wife of DYFI leader Ajith had accused Sasi of sexual misbehaviour. In the second, the daughter of a former Kannur MLA informally complained about sexual advances he had made.

Sources said the CPM’s state secretariat had recommended lenient action — suspension of party membership for a year — but the state committee felt he deserved harsher punishment and pressed for his expulsion.

Insiders said the party was compelled to act as the women members had approached the central leadership and were not willing to let Sasi off lightly.

The expulsion comes as a blow to CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, as Sasi was known to be close to him and staunchly opposed to former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

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