July 13, 2009 3:01:18 pm
Dubbed by his critics as a “doctrinaire Marxist”,Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan,who was ejected out of the CPI(M) Politburo,is no stranger to controversies as it is the fourth time the veteran comrade is facing disciplinary action.
A founder leader of the CPI-M,Achuthanandan incurred the wrath of the party high command during the Chinese aggression in 1962 as he organised a blood donation campaign for Indian soldiers,defying the party policy that led to his being shunted out of the Central Committee to the branch committee.
He was then detained in a prison here alongwith several other party workers,as the Indian Communist Party was alleged to have taken a “pro-Chinese position” in the war,according to CPI-M old timers here.
Without consulting the party elders,Achuthanandan called upon the political prisoners to donate blood for the soldiers. A fellow prisoner leaked out the information to a popular pro-Left English weekly,which made big story out of it. The party later discussed the matter and Achuthanandan was demoted to the lowest tier in the organisation.
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A popular leader who has risen from the ranks,the 86-year-old Marxist veteran has often been dubbed as the “well-spring” of factionalism in the state.
He was censured by the party for his role in cutting down his opponents in the state by manipulating their exclusion from the state committee at the state party conference in 1998,which came to be known in Kerala political parlance as ‘Vettinirathal’ (cutting down to size).
Ironically,his present tormentor,state Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was Achuthanandan’s hatchet man in the 1998 purge,which saw sidelining of such senior party leaders like M M Lawrence,who was then convener of the LDF.
Achuthanandan soon fell out with Vijayan and many of the young leaders,whom he promoted in the state leadership as part of his fight against the so-called CITU lobby in 1990s.
His charge was that they were becoming prone to rightist deviations and a cleansing move was essential to restore ideological purity and class consciousness at all levels in the party.
The tempo of the feud kept on mounting after Achuthanandan became chief minister and a deeply concerned central leadership suspended him and Vijayan from the politburo in 2007,but revoked it six months later.
The removal of a leader from the politburo is considered to be the harshest punishment in the party,meted out only in the rarest of the rare cases.
Several veterans in the past such as S V Ghate,P C Joshi and B T Ranadive had been handed down organisational punishment for failure of their political,strategic and tactical policies at crucial moments of Indian Left movement.
Known for his shrewdness and tenacity while taking on his opponents,he had often been at the receiving end of clever moves by his rivals. In the 1996 Assembly polls,he was widely projected as the chief ministerial candidate. The LDF swept the polls but Achuthanandan lost in the CPI-M bastion Mararikkulam in Alappuzha district.
He had to wait for another 10 years to fulfil his ambition of becoming the Chief Minister.
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