The CPI (M) Central Committee has decided to weaken Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and not to throw him out from the party for the time being. This is in strategic deference to minority opinion opposed to action against Mr. Achuthanandan alone for indiscipline, sparing party State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (Pinarayi was being spared despite his role in factionalism in the party).
However, the State leaders had for long adopted the strategy to weaken him gradually and eventually throw him out from the Chief Ministership. CPI (M) Ministers have already expressed their lack of confidence in him besides the State unit.
So, democratically and politically, Mr. Achuthanandan’s continuance as the Chief Minister of the State is untenable, but for the people’s support he is enjoying. However, there is no device to measure his current popularity. (Some opinion polls during the Lok Sabha elections had shown that the Chief Minister is still popular with the masses.)
Three years of Achuthanandan’s rule has been a disaster. He has not been showing any initiatives for months now, after those on the Smart City project and the eviction of encroachers at the beginning of this term which did not bear fruit. So, the administration is as good as paralysed on several fronts. The only notable exception is welfare of farmers, fishermen and other weaker sections. Mr. Achuthanandan could be saying that this was because his party virtually did not allow him to function. But that does not materially alter the fact that the State is missing good governance.
Of course, Mr. Achuthanandan moral stands and fight against corruption has value. But tangible results are yet to be seen. Even in the case of Lavalin case, successful prosecution is unlikely.
So, the fundamental question is whether continuance of Mr. Achuthanandan would benefit the State. Under the present circumstances, the damage outweigh the benefits. So, Mr. Achuthanandan should be submitting the resignation of his ministry.
If he has popularity independent of the party, theoretically he should be able to come back to power. Practically, however, he would need a strong party and its machinery which is not easy to build even with earlier oustees from the party. Besides, he cannot recommend the dissolution of the Assembly without a Cabinet decision.
V. S. is a fighter who does not forget his ire. He knows that he can inflict more damage on his opponents by being in the party than outside. The game will continue with each side trying to weaken the other side, at the cost of the public.