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

Pinarayi has every right to defend himself Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

vishnuCPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has every right to obtain information from government that would help him to defend himself in the SNC Lavalin case. The Opposition argument against that it devoid of merit.

If he has obtained information relating to the Cabinet decision on the SNC Lavalin case from the Government under the Right to Information Act and presented it before the Supreme Court, his action is perfectly in order. However, P. C. George, MLA, has raised the question whether the information in question was actually released under provisions of the Act. This is a valid question and is to be looked into.

The Opposition leader Oommen Chandy, on the other hand, maintains that the release of the information under the Act on Cabinet decisions sets a bad precedent as not only Mr. Vijayan but also known offenders like Om Prakash would be able to get information beneficial to them in criminal cases.

In an open government, every citizen has right to get information and the rights of Mr. Vijayan is not different from that of Om Prakash. Moreover, it is the duty of the government not only to ensure successful prosecution of offenders but also to ensure fair trial. If government suppresses information, that would hamper fair trial.  It is the responsibility of the State to ensure fair trial in every case.

However, the problem is that governments are not only unwilling to ensure successful prosecution of known offenders with political connections but also aid them in various ways. The accompanying picture points to open political patronage to known offenders.

Related reports:

Vishnu muder: three more held
Charges filed in Vishnu murder case
Murder of CPM Gunda-Move to blame RSS

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.

Iyer now wants the Governor to dismiss Kerala Government Monday, Jun 22 2009 

krishnaiyerFormer Supreme Court Judge V. R. Krishna Iyer has done that again. He has written an article in the New Indian Express suggesting that the Governor should act to the end collective irresponsibility of Kerala Government. While appreciating the validity of Mr. Iyer’s legal points, KeralaViews wants to highlight the complexities and contractions involved in Mr. Iyer’s advice.

Last time, Mr. Iyer wanted the Governor not to act against CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan by sanctioning the CBI’s request to prosecute Mr. Vijayan in a corruption case. His argument was that the Governor did not have the discretionary powers to reject the Cabinet’s advice against prosecution of Mr. Vijayan.

This time Mr. Iyer wants the Governor to act against the Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and dismiss his Cabinet for failing to exercise collective responsibility (in making its recommendation?) What Mr. Iyer wants the Governor to exercise now is indeed a discretionary power which the English Queen will hesitate to exercise even under utmost provocation. (If Cabinet did not show collective responsibility regarding  its decision to recommend against prosecution of Mr. Vijayan, that should be reckoned as a good reason for the Governor to use his discretion in the matter)

Earlier, Mr. Iyer had wanted the Governor not to exercise his discretionary powers and act in aid of an alleged attempt to undermine the rule of law. Rule of law is fundamental not only to the Constitution but to any system of governance, whereas the discretionary power that Mr. Iyer wants the Governor to exercise now is only a Constitutional principle that is open to different interpretations.

The pleasure principle is something that should be invoked with due circumspection and fair judgment of the situation. The Governor cannot easily dismiss a government even in the case of break down of the rule of law. If the Governor has erred in sanctioning prosecution of Mr. Vijayan, he will be erring more seriously if he dismisses the Chief Minister.

This is not to say that the Achuthanandan Government has a right to continue. KeralaViews has said that the Achuthanandan Ministry had breached collective responsibility much before Mr. Iyer wrote about that. However, as stated in an earlier post, Cabinet Ministers are appointed by the Chief Minister and he has every right to drop Ministers who do not enjoy his confidence. So, if Ministers breach the principle of collective responsibility, it is for the Chief Minister to take action. If it is the Chief Minister himself who is responsible for the situation, it is for the Legislative Assembly to express no confidence in him. Mr. Iyer himself notes, quoting Kashyap, that the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the House of People.

If the Achuthanandan Government is continuing in office despite the gross breach of constitutional principles, it is the Legislature that should hold the Government accountable. The Governor is to act only if the legislators fail to exercise their legitimate role for want of moral authority or other reasons. Then, what the Governor should do is not only to dismiss the Government, but also to dissolve the Assembly, paving way for the people to elect a responsible Government. However, when the legislators are not acting, the Governor is in a position similar to Bhishma, who had to remain silent when Panchali was dishonoured. Dharma is subtle, Bhishma said.

Like his previous article, this article of the Mr. Iyer is a double edged sword.


Cacophony of Kerala Cabinet on Display in Legislature

CPI-M again challenging rule of law Sunday, Jun 7 2009 

Kerala Governor R. S. Gavai

Kerala Governor R. S. Gavai

The CPI (M) is challenging the rule of law by observing a black day against decision of the Governor R. S. Gavai sanctioning prosecution of CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

The issue here is not Mr. Vijayan’s innocence or guilt, but the requirement that he should stand trial like any citizen of this country. Even bias in the investigation is not a valid justification for trying to undermine the due process of law. Everyone is equal before law. In the case of Mr. Vijayan, the CBI investigation was directly supervised by a court of law and prima facie a case has been established.

The Constitutional provision requiring prior permission of the Governor for prosecution of people for anything done in their capacity as Ministers is merely intended to ensure that those who held such positions are not unnecessarily harassed for bona fide action taken in the discharge of their duties. It is not an instrument to protect people from the consequences of wrong doing.

What the CPI (M) is doing now is reminiscent of what Indira Gandhi did after she was unseated by the Allahabad High Court for electoral malpractices. She changed the law to save herself and declared emergency to stay in power. Mr. Vijayan is using Government machinery and the party machinery to save himself from the due process of law. The party is directly challenging a Constitutional authority. The organisational power of a political party is not to be misused to save an individual.

If the illiterate people of India could deliver a crushing defeat to Indira Gandhi, the fate awaiting the CPI (M) is clear. In fact, the people has already spoken through the Lok Sabha elections.

Will VS split the CPI-M? Thursday, Feb 12 2009 

V. S. Achuthanandan

V. S. Achuthanandan

The answer is no, provided that the party State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is sufficiently weakened.

It is well known that the official group was angling for his ouster from the Chief Ministership after the Lok Sabha elections. Mr. Achuthanandan would want the CPI (M)  polit bureau to assure him that this would not happen.

However, mere assurance is not enough. Pinarayi should be sufficiently weakened to ensure that he would not strike at Mr. Achuthanandan later on. The best way to ensure that is to get permission from the polit bureau to sanction the prosecution of Mr. Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case. Thus VS would have a lien over Pinarayi for months to come.

If that would not work with the PB (in all possibility, it would), Achuthanandan will offer to resign if Pinarai is also removed from his position. That way, he would have better influence in the party and government than being a puppet Chief Minister under party machinery controlled by Mr. Vijayan.

Nobody need expect the fall of the Government during the Budget session of the Assembly beginning on Friday. Nothing dramatic will happen after the polit bureau discusses the SNC Lavalin issue on Saturaday.