Master strategist Achuthanandan saves his position once again Sunday, Oct 14 2012 

Achuthanandan proves himself to be a master of tactics; saves his position once again

V. S. Achuthanandan

CPI (M) leader V. S. Achuthanandan

Though a strategic move, Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan has saved his position as Leader of the Opposition once again. However, for a second time, the party has censured him.

The State unit had been seeking disciplinary action against the Opposition Leader for openly supporting the agitation against Kudankulam nuclear plant. This would even have led to his eventual removal from the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

In a pre-emptive move, Mr. Achuthanandan asked the Central leadership of the party to change party line on Kudankulam. Though the politburo rejected his demand noting that the party line was adopted at the Party Congress, the demand for action against the Opposition Leader got dented though the ensuring discussion in the polit bureau and the Central Committee. There was some support among leaders from other States to Mr. Achuthanandan’s demand that the party should support the agitation against Kudunkulam plant. Moreover, the dichotomy between the party’s stand on Kudankulam and the Jaitapur plant came to the fore though the Central Committee resolution offered some explanation for that.  The Committee also called for an independent safety review of Kudankulam nuclear plant and condemned repression of people agitating against its commissioning. “Necessary safety measures must be put in place before the reactors are commissioned.”  It said.

However, Mr. Achuthanandan proved that he can still take on the State leadership of the party. He had gone to express his support for those agitating against the plant in Tamil Nadu, defying the official leadership of the party in Kerala and general secretary Prakash Karat. Mr. Achuthanandan, who is credited with participation in the Punnapra Vayalar uprising, had just returned when stopped by Tamil Nadu police at the border. He knew that if he had gone into Tamil Nadu and got arrested, he would find none of his party leaders in Kanyakumari district would be there in his support.

The following is the full text of the Central Committee resolution:

Resolution on Comrade V. S. Achuthanandan’s Stand on Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

The Central Committee reiterates the approach of the Party on the use of nuclear power for civilian purposes. The Political Resolution adopted by the 20th Congress of the Party has opposed the setting up of nuclear parks with imported nuclear reactors which are a consequence of the Indo-US nuclear deal. These are not viable on technical and economic grounds and also from the point of view of safety.

In the case of the Kudankulam reactors, the resolution has made an exception as the agreements for these reactors were signed two decades before the Indo-US nuclear deal, at a time when the US and other western countries had imposed sanctions on India. Since then, two reactors from Russia have already been constructed at considerable cost and they are at the final stage before commissioning. However, the resolution has stressed that given the local people’s apprehensions about their safety and livelihood after the Fukushima accident in Japan, these concerns should be met. There should be an independent safety audit and necessary safety measures must be put in place before the reactors are commissioned.

Such an independent safety review has not been conducted. In the meantime, the people protesting at Kudankulam have been subjected to police repression and a large number of cases have been foisted against them. The Party has condemned the repression and demanded that the cases of sedition and other charges be withdrawn.

Com. V.S. Achuthanandan has taken a position contrary to this stand. He has also criticized the Party’s position on Kudankulam as explained by the General Secretary. The Central Committee rejects his views. It censures him for his refusal to abide by the stand which was worked out at the Party Congress. The Central Committee directs Com. V.S. Achuthanandan to adopt the stand taken by the Party.

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Politburo and quarrelling children Sunday, Jul 22 2012 

When two children quarrel, some patients punish both children equally. They know that it is tricky to enquire into the reasons for the quarrel, who started the bouts and who received the most.

The CPI (M) politburo is acting on the same lines. It has censured Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan and proposed an enquiry into some of the main issues raised by Mr. Achuthanandan against the State leadership of the party.  It has neither addressed the issues nor resolved any.  It simply brought time. And the children will quarrel again.

Achuthanandan has gone through the usual pretentions of being apologetic about certain aspects of his conduct and being submissive to the party. And party’s benevolent punishment was fully executed with the press conference of party general secretary Prakash Karat.

What puts the politburo in a tight spot is that the official leadership is tightly in control of the State unit of the party and its assets while Mr. Achuthanandan has mass support.

Support for party as such is dwindling and the official leadership had been able to do nothing about that. Instead, it got embroiled in issues like the murder of Revolutionary Socialist Party leader T. P. Chandrasekharan and open admission of its murder politics by its Idukki district secretary.

For more information:

Achuthanandan Censured

Positive verdict in favour of UDF in Kerala Wednesday, Mar 21 2012 

Anoop Jacob

Anoop Jacob

The electoral verdict in Piravom bypoll is a positive vote in favour of the Chief Minister Ooomen Chandy. It unequivocally shows that the people want the Chandy government to continue whatever be its shortfalls.

The unity and support of various communities have indeed played a role. However, a 12000 plus margin would not have been possible because of such factors. For UDF voters have already been swayed in favour of (late) T. M. Jacob and his son Anoop Jacob who won the election.

It is ridiculous to argue that the resignation of Neyyattinkara member of the Assembly R. Selvaraj (CPI-M) had an impact on the by-election. More prominent leaders of the CPI (M) have quit the party in the past and their impact was limited. Whoever, wanted to vote against the CPI (M) had already voted against it in the 2011 elections and hardly anyone else would have joined those ranks in Piravom constituency after Selvaraj’s resignation.

However, it might be true that Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan’s as a vote-puller has further diminished with the mounting allegations against him and his son and increasing realisation that he was not being sincere to the causes he expounded.

The results should be a lesson to Mr. Achuthanandan and the CPI (M). People demand honesty and sincerity and the Chief Minister is saying that the bypoll victory is the reward for his sincerity to people. But the cunning politician that he is, can he be really sincere? May be in responding to representations from people. He doesn’t have to live up to any other ideal than this as he expounds none.

Endosulfan, a Kerala story Saturday, Apr 23 2011 

Endosulfan: the Kerala story

Cover of the book published by Kerala Government, Endosulfan: the Kerala story

Chief Minister of Kerala V. S. Achuthanandan should be congratulated for offering fast on April 25 to press for ban on endosulfan. However, it only becomes penance for four years of inaction after he assumed office.

Despite the sympathies expressed for endosulfan campaign while he was the Opposition leader, Mr. Achuthanandan did hardly anything for the endosulfan victims for four years. He could not excuse himself that his party was in the way as this was one of the few issues on which the party was not at odds with him.

However, he scrambled back into action by the time the elections were around the corner. The Cabinet entrusted the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment with a quick assessment of the damage. However, the time available was very limited for a scientific study and the expert committee could not submit its report till now. It faced problems about sampling, testing and selection of control populations.

So, the all-party delegation went to Delhi without a scientifically prepared dossier but with a brochure on endosulfan to persuade the Centre to support an on endosulfan. The Centre took refuge on need for further studies though further studies are not really needed for the purpose of ban. There is ample evidence that endosulfan causes many diseases though it can be debated whether a particular case is caused by endosulfan. However, considering the known mechanisms of its causing diseases and known status of endosulfan persistent organic pollutant and one that can gravely affect the brain and reproductive systems, the precautionary principle applies. The principle has been upheld by courts in India, yet it has not been forcefully raised by the delegation.

The government claims to have provided much assistance to the victims in recent months. However, it did not match even non-governmental organisations like Solidarity (youth arm of Jama ate Islami) . However, it is to be acknowledged that it did provide considerable medical assistance though it did not reach all. Though it has announced Rs. 2000 a month each to the victims in this year’s budget, the job of distributing it actually falls on the next government.  Even the Rs. 300 a month announced for by-standers are yet to reach many affected families. There are complaints that the survey done by the government to identify victims were not exhaustive even while it allowed some people affected by non-endosulfan related diseases to get into the list.

Though the problem in Kasaragod was known to governments for two decades, they had done nothing to decontaminate the area, supply pure drinking water or promote replacement of food crops with cash crops as food crops in the area also carried endosulfan residues according to some studies.

It is known that the officials of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala violated several laws in spraying endosulfan over large areas with little precautions. Though the Chief Minister promised action against them six months ago, no steps had actually been taken. A police investigation would be needed to find out whether they have also dumped stocks in pits and covered them up.  If the Corporation and its officials are allowed to go scot free, tragedies like that in Kasaragod would recur. In fact, it is already happening in Idukki district and elsewhere as motorised pumps are used to spray deadly pesticides.

LDF’s new strategy Thursday, Jun 3 2010 

In an earlier posting, KeralaViews wrote about LDF getting jittery over its electoral prospects. That jittery phase is almost over and the LDF has started drawing up strategies carefully to regain its lost ground. It may be a bit surprising that the first indication of this had come from the Chief Minister V. S. Achuthandnan, despite his rout in the party.

He said that communalism is growing in the Christian and Muslim community. Neutral observers may regard it as a statement of fact. However, Achuthanandan has stated that now just to endear himself to the majority community.

The strategic shift to woo the majority community over earlier attempts to woo the Muslims by even giving in to fundamentalism, however, leaves the party with baggage from the past. The PDP has to be discarded. However, it is yet to be seen whether the party would abandon all those who had helped it in the past and probe all the fundamentalist activities that had taken place in Malappuram and other districts to the root. The Indian National League has already sensed the drift and decided to call it a day. It would be leaving the LDF after a 16-year old liaison.

The CPI (M)’s attempts to woo the Christian community were a stalled effort for long. The community had voted overwhelmingly against the LDF in the Lok Sabha elections. Now that the Kerala Congress has left the camp, the party has virtually severed links with the community. The Kerala Congress faction led by P. C. Thomas could only be a liability in carrying forward with its new strategy. Mr. Thomas was a person who had been debarred from contesting the elections for the next three years for openly using communal card in the election campaign. Hence, the reluctance to grant Ministerial berth to the party.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, many in the Ezhava community had voted against the LDF because of its links with the PDP and other factors. The LDF can now hope to regain some of these votes through the new strategy. (It has already lost minority votes and may lose some more. Yet a net gain could be expected.)

The strategy may also help the State. The political protection that extremists got in the past may dissipate. As the LDF distances itself from minority communalism, the UDF would not be compelled to cater to communalists and fundamentalists. This is already showing through its resistance to bargaining by Kerala Congress. The Muslim League had to abandon talks with the Jama-ate-Islami.

However, the new strategy may not yet save the LDF from impending defeat in the coming elections. Their failure to govern and the riches of the CPI(M) and the corruption that goes with it is indeed a heavy baggage.

CPI (M) and terrorists Wednesday, Dec 16 2009 

AKG CentreIt is stated policy of the CPI (M), or for that matter any of the mainstream political parties, that they would have no truck with extremist outfits and terrorists. However, in practice, this may not be so.

There is little doubt that both the UDF and LDF had hobnobbed with extremists as part vote bank politics. As a result, extremists could take deeper roots in districts such as Malappuram. The network is deeper than that had come to light so far. However, the police, under political pressure, is still reluctant to strike at those who aided the network to take deep roots.

Now with media reporting about Soofia Maudani’s alleged involvement in the Kalamassery bus burning case and unearthing of part of the terrorist network in the State, it has become difficult for political parties in the State to openly associate with Abdul Nasir Maudani’s People’s Democratic Party. However, the CPI (M) is still in two minds with party State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Minister V. S.Achuthanandan leading the opposing camps. (What a fall for a communist party!)

It is to be remembered that the State Assembly had passed a resolution seeking the release of Maudani from Coimbatore Central Jail. Achuthanandan had gone to Chennai to meet the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and plead for Maudani. The cost that Tamil Nadu extracted was the Assembly resolution in favour of release of Neyyar waters to Tamil Nadu.

So, the promise of any politician that they would not have any truck with extremist organisations in future is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Eternal vigilance by the public would only ensure that the mainstream political parties would not stray into extremist camps.

Related post:

Terrorism: Kerala could be a sitting duck

Whither Achuthanandan? Wednesday, Nov 4 2009 

Achuthanandan_CM

Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan

V. S. Achuthanandan appears to be playing a new game to regain his position in party and remain as Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, who had earlier refused to take the cudgels against Constitutional Authority of the Governor, has now turned against the Election Commission of India, another Constitutional authority.

His remarks, questioning the powers of the Commission to deploy Central forces on the polling day, would not please anyone standing for free and fair elections in the country. However, it would sure please some leaders in the party, especially those from Kannur.

Mr. Achuthanandan knows that party State Secretary Pinarai Vijayan may not be able to continue in office after the next party conference, if it adopts the corrective measures proposes by the Polit Bureau. Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has been weakened by the allegations surrounding the actions of his son. So, Achuthanandan could regain his position in the Polit Bureau from which he had been ousted for indiscipline, if he plays the cards well

So, ultimately the only losers would be those who stood by Achuthanandan believing that he would take principled stands.

Weakening of Mr. Achuthanandan Sunday, Jul 12 2009 

Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan

Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan

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.

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