In a setback to V S Achuthanandan,the CPM politburo on Sunday endorsed the Kerala units controversial decision to expel three of his close confidants from the party. The central leadership,however,let him continue as the Leader of the Opposition,rejecting the state units demand to remove the 90-year-old from the post.
VS has been at loggerheads with the state unit controlled by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. The three-day politburo and central committee meetings of the CPM once again saw the central leaders playing the role of referee between VS and Vijayan.
Having played the waiting game,the politburo finally decided to take up the issue of expulsion of three of VS aides,the state committees suggestion that he should be removed from the post of Leader of the Opposition,and VS complaint that hes being victimised by the state unit and action against his confidants were another attempt to marginalise him.
The state unit had last year decided to sack VS press secretary K Balakrishnan,additional private secretary V K Sasidharan and personal assistant A Suresh on charges of leaking to the media parts of a party review report in 2008. Sources said the politburo after being authorised to take a decision by the central committee ratified the state units action. The politburo,however,rejected the state units demand to replace VS,but decided to set up a committee to inquire into his allegations as well the charges levelled by his rivals that he had influenced the judiciary in the SNC Lavlin corruption case against Vijayan. It is learnt that most of the politburo members,barring those from Kerala,were against removal of VS. The central leadership asked him to mend his ways.
With the party central leadership endorsing the expulsion of his aides,a decision which he had been opposing strongly,all eyes are now on VS who chose to keep his cards close to his chest. He did not immediately react.
The meet also witnessed members from West Bengal targeting the central leadership in connection with the heckling of Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra outside the Planning Commission last month during a protest demonstration. They argued the incident dented the partys image and pushed it to the back foot in the state ahead of the panchayat polls.
The protest organised by the Delhi unit of the CPM which saw the participation of many SFI activists had witnessed unruly scenes. The incident had already led to a blame game within the party.