VS loses slot in CPM shuffle

The CPM's Kerala unit today elected politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as its new secretary and dropped veteran V.S. Achuthanandan from its state committee.

By Ananthakrishnan G. in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 24.02.15
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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 23: The CPM's Kerala unit today elected politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as its new secretary and dropped veteran V.S. Achuthanandan from its state committee.

Kodiyeri, as the 61-year-old is popularly known, is a member of the party politburo and replaces outgoing state unit chief Pinarayi Vijayan, who has completed three terms. The party constitution bars a fourth term.

Balakrishnan, who rose through the ranks of the CPM student body SFI, hails from Kannur, a Marxist bastion. His elevation comes amid an unprecedented escalation of hostilities between Vijayan and Achuthanandan, which marred the three-day state conference that ended in Alappuzha district today.

A day before the meet started, Vijayan told a media conference the state committee had adopted a resolution against VS's "anti-party" activities. Achuthanandan reacted by saying he rejected the allegation with the contempt it deserved.

In the discussions that followed, the state committee, filled mostly with Vijayan loyalists, demanded action against VS, forcing the 92-year-old to leave the venue in a huff.

It sparked rumours that VS was thinking of hardening his stand by stepping down as leader of Opposition or even leaving the party. Senior leaders, including Sitaram Yechury and party general secretary Prakash Karat, managed to prevail upon the state unit to "freeze" the portion of the report that listed VS's anti-party activities. The central leadership also asked VS to attend the state meet, but he refused to relent.

Speaking at the public meeting that marked the end of the conference, Karat expressed disappointment with Achuthanandan's decision. "We would hope and we wish that comrade VS becomes part and parcel of our continuing movement and struggle. And I hope that he will join and become part of this by accepting the common norms and discipline of the party which he, as a senior-most leader of the party, is obliged to accept and implement," he said.

Addressing the gathering, Kodiyeri too said people come and go, but the party stays. However, in post-elevation interviews to TV channels, he said the party would explore means of a rapprochement. As a hint to VS, the party left vacant a slot in the 88-member state committee to adjust to any future developments.