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.

Party surrenders Monday, Aug 13 2012 

The party has surrendered. The surrender of CPI (M) member of the Assembly T. V. Rajesh in the Shukkur murder case is not the surrender of an individual but that of the party. The party had organised a hartal that led to much violence and destruction of public property worth Rs. 3 crores when party district secretary P. Jayarajan was arrested in the same case. It had threatened investigating officers and media men when party leaders were arrested in the T. P. Chandrasekharan murder case.

In sharp contrast, party leader M. V. Jayarajan and other brought Rajesh to the court for surrender without any fuss. Even statements made by M. V.  Jayarajan was mellowed compared to the statements made during the arrest of P. Jayarajan.

The long arm of the law has reached party higher ups and it has realised that resistance would not yield much benefits. It would only lead to denial of bail to accused, if their supporters caused mayhem outside. The law has triumphed so far though it ultimate victory will be only in the successful prosecution of the accused.

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

BJP emerges gainer but not the winner in Kerala bypoll Tuesday, Jun 19 2012 

O. Rajagopal on election campaign

Protest against Petrol price hike: BJP candidate rides bullock cart during campaign in the by-election from Neyyattinkara Assembly constituency in Kerala

The LDF has suffered a severe jolt in the by-election from Neyyattinkara in Kerala in June while BJP stood as the major gainer. Both the ruling and Opposition Fronts suffered erosion of votes in the election. The vote share of United Democratic Front (UDF) dropped from about 43 per cent to 40 per cent despite victory in the election while that of the LDF dropped from 49 per cent to about 35 per cent. The BJP’s vote share went up about six per cent to more 23 per cent.

The by-poll was necessitated by the resignation of Mr. R. Selvaraj as CPI (M) member of the Assembly and his defection to the Congress. When Mr. Selvaraj contested as CPI (M) candidate in 2011 under the banner of LDF, he had won a vote share of nearly 49 per cent. As Congress candidate now under the banner of United Democratic Front, his vote share has dropped to 40 per cent. So, it is a loss for all the parties except the BJP.

The BJP has gained from the communal divide caused by induction of fifth Minister belonging to the Muslim League into the UDF ministry. However, both the UDF and the BJP have gained from bigger erosion of votes from the LDF camp. This erosion should have been the effect of protest over the brutal murder of RMP leader T. P. Chandrasekharan and the issues raised by the murder.

The LDF lost votes from three groups— CPI (M) workers who sympathised with Mr. Selvaraj, supporters of line adopted by Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan in the party and supporters of the party in the general population who were antagonised by the murder politics and other policies of the party. The last two groups either voted for the UDF or the BJP depending on their communal inclinations or apathy to the UDF. The UDF lost many votes to BJP as the majority community members turned away from the Front over issues like appeasement of Muslim League. However, it benefitted from consolidation of minority votes in its favour, when the BJP seen as making inroads into UDF support base.

CPI (M) finds no alternative Tuesday, Apr 10 2012 

Some had predicted that the CPI (M) Party Congress in Kozhikode would be a historic one. However, the media guessed it right. They knew that no history was going to be made in Kozhikode. So, fewer media persons came to report the Kozhikode Congress compared to the large gathering of national media, especially Hindi media, at the previous Congress in Coimbatore.

What happened in the walled venue modeled like red fort and culminated on the arena modeled like Roman coliseum was the fight between two factions in the Kerala unit.

The finale at the coliseum showed the defeat of Opposition Leader in Kerala V. S. Achuthanandan by party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, watched by the Central leadership of the party. Television cameras showed a defeated Achuthanandan leaving the arena before the show concluded.

The party is still ambiguous whether it has abandoned the Chinese model of communism.  Well, there is hardly any model in China to be followed now. And it is an uphill task for the CPI (M) to develop an indigenous model and ideology as its foundations had been shaken by weakening of Marxism as well as the caliber of its leadership.

Some party leaders have succumbed to pelf and lure of sex. But the real issue is not that some leaders succumb to temptations, but the majority in the party is incapable of acting against them. There is general deterioration of ideological underpinnings of the party and the cadre.

So, even after the Congress, the party would be looking for alternatives. And on the political front, it has no alternative but to ride piggy back on regional parties.

People’s verdict may not shake the CPI (M) Wednesday, Oct 27 2010 

CPI(M) march

Times have changed, vehicle jathas replace marches.

The CPI (M) and its allies chose wealth over virtue; and the results have come. The party lost its dominance at the local level of panchayats and municipalities after two decades. The results of the elections to about 1200 local self government institutions in Kerala should come as a blow to the CPI (M). However, there may not be much remorse or regret in the CPI (M) camp. At least some of its leaders had the capacity to predict what was to come and identify the causes. But most of them chose trend the path of mammon.

It notable that urban areas with not-so-committed people are fast abandoning the party. The wave has reached the villages and is brushing party-strongholds. Yet, it has not penetrated strong holds like Kannur and backward areas like Ksaragod where people who were loyal to the party remain loyal. However, it would be hard for the party to stem the trend now.

People have learned that the party has changed a lot from the times its leaders slept on wooden benches in the party office and survived on brunches of ‘parippuvada’ and black tea. They have now migrated to party-built flats and five star comforts. That might have been inevitable. But, simultaneously, they abandoned values and paid only lip service to the ideology that sustained the party.

It would be wrong to relate the defeat just to the recent controversies such as the lotteries issue. The State Cabinet has become an epitome of collective irresponsibility while the party leaders embraced mega projects. The government could not deliver on the developmental front and failed the weaker sections (Eg. Attappady tribals, endosulfan victims, Chengara agitators and many small fries who tasted the injustice from the administration). An increase in welfare pensions cannot do the trick anymore. Why should the people credit a government for dolling out what they have paid in taxes? Any fool could undertake such enterprises and pocket his commissions. You would not appoint him to govern you.

Tailpiece (added on 29th):

The BJP claims that it has improved its support. What it could do was to harness the support that was already there. It is not a political victory. Rather, what it gone in terms of votes is spill overs from the wave against LDF.

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.

LDF gets jittery Sunday, May 9 2010 

LDF Election campaign

from the failed LDF campaign for last Lok Sabha election

With smaller parties leaving the LDF
, the Font has got jittery. Splitter groups of RSP, Janata Dal and Kerala Congresses have found refuge in the UDF. Ground level support for left parties is shrinking. Indian National League (INL) is also making moves to shift allegiance after having waited long for entry into LDF. Hence the hurried decision by CPI (M) leadership to consider admission of INL and NCP into LDF. It would not be surprising, if K. Muraleedharan also finds himself back in the LDF, if Congress continues to reject his entry into that party.

With elections round the corner, Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan’s prospects are also improving. There is talk of his being taken back into the Polit bureau. This is because the party could not ignore his potential to win votes. Achuthanandan is believed to be still able to ride the wave of promises given by him to the electorate, though he had kept hardly any of them. However, he has been successful in portraying that this was because of his opponents in the party. He believes that shows like action against Tomin Thatchankary can help him to carry forward. Will the voters be fooled another time?

The State secretariat and State committee of the CPI (M) meeting here this week has the unenviable task of applying correctional policies and preparing the party for the coming elections to the local bodies.  However, given the abyss into which it has fallen, the party is not up to it.

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