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Left at a loss in Kerala

Monday, 6 August 2007 - 8:55am IST
The CPI (M), once the “most disciplined” political party, is in a spot of bother in Kerala. It does not know how to quell the feud between its two most-powerful leaders.

NEW DELHI: The CPI (M), once the “most disciplined” political party, is in a spot of bother in Kerala. It does not know how to quell the feud between its two most-powerful leaders—Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, locked in a fierce turf war for the last two years.


The two were suspended from the politburo in May as their feud had reached such a point that it was threatening to undermine the authority of general secretary Prakash Karat.


After a brief truce, the two are battling it out again. The latest bout began on Thursday when party-owned Kairali television channel, which is controlled by Vijayan, aired an interview of a controversial businessman, Pharis Aboobaker, who hinted at a shady deal with the Chief Minister. VS had earlier called Aboobaker, allegedly linked to a kidney scam, the “most hated man”.


That Kairali managing director John Brittas went all the way to Dubai to interview the tainted businessman, who tried to project “VS in a poor light”, triggered stone-pelting at the channel’s office in Thiruvananthapuram two days ago.


Soon after the telecast of the interview, VS complained to party top brass in Delhi that there was a conspiracy to malign his image.


Malayalam superstar Mammooty, who is close to Vijayan, also has stakes in Kairali. It may be a coincidence that Mammooty’s relatives also own land in the Munnar hill resort where the Chief Minister personally supervised demolition of buildings and confiscation of encroached forest land.


The latest spat comes close on the heels of allegations that party mouthpiece Deshabhimani (a Malayalam daily) had taken Rs 1 and Rs 2 crore from two businessmen close to Vijayan.


CPI (M) top brass is at its wits’ end. The Chief Minister with a rustic image is popular among the party cadre and people. The powerful and reformist State secretary is no pushover.


If VS has popular support, the State party apparatus is controlled by Vijayan. He has been systematically purging the party of VS supporters and bringing in his own men.


The beleaguered politburo met here on Friday to take stock of the situation and in an unusual move, decided to keep a watch on the developments in Kerala. 


The bureau is planning “special guidelines” for the conduct of the State conference due in November-December, ahead of the next party congress, to avoid further trouble.




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