February 23, 2015 1:15:37 pm
In a major setback for veteran Communist leader V S Achuthanandan, the CPI(M) on Monday dropped his name from the list of leaders to be included in the state committee.
Meanwhile, heralding new leadership in the state unit, Politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was unanimously elected as the new state secretary.
VS, who boycotted the party state conference, did not heed to the Politburo ultimatum that he should return to the event. A vacant slot was left in the 88-member state committee indicating that the party was willing to accommodate Achuthanandan if he gives in to the party.
A few others above the age of 80 have been excluded from the new committee on health grounds.
Achuthanandan has been a state committee member of the party since its inception in 1964. The Opposition leader is currently a member of the central committee after he was removed from the Politburo in 2009 for his anti-party stand in the SNC-Lavalin controversy.
The new CPI(M) state secretary succeeds Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been heading the party since 1998. Vijayan will now focus on electoral strategy, easing out Opposition leader Achuthanandan.
Balakrishnan is at present the deputy leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly. He also hails from Kannur, the home town of Vijayan.
For more than a decade, CPI(M)’s politics in Kerala has centred around two leaders, arch-rivals V S Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan. Balakrishnan’s elevation marks the beginning of a new era. The 62-year-old has been part of the Vijayan lobby in the state unit.
Balakrishnan has been an exception in a party where many leaders have risen at the state organisational level but been dwarfed in national politics.
Home minister during the last LDF regime, Balakrishnan has been a member of the Assembly for 24 years, always winning from Thalassery in North Kerala.
During this time, he has gone on to become the party’s district secretary in Kannur and then a member of the state committee, the secretariat, the central committee and finally the Politburo in 2008.
In the party congress held in Coimbatore in 2008, he pipped two senior leaders to the Politburo post.
Balakrishnan, who had joined the CPM through the student wing of the party, was one of the firebrand young leaders groomed by the late M V Raghavan, who was later thrown out of the party.
Balakrishnan was once known as a “rabble raiser” but has mellowed since 2006, when he became the Home Minister. During Balakhrishnan’s tenure as home minister, his actor son Bineesh has been the subject of several controversies.
Though he has always stood with the Kannur lobby led by Vijayan, Balakrishnan has kept a distance, at least in public, from the latter’s feud with Achuthanandan.
Newly-elected party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the conference on Monday did not decide to include VS in the state committee. At the same time as a member of the central committee, he can take part in the state committee meeting. The party would take appropriate decision on filling the vacant position in the state committee, said Balakrishnan.
Referring to Achuthanandan’s defiant stand, Balakrishnan said “we still have hope in that comrade. Party has always given him due consideration. VS should have attended the state conference. ‘’
Balakrishnan said VS could have presented his woes in the party state secretariat which met yesterday. Six polit buro members from outside Kerala were present in that meeting. Party general secretary Prakash Karat had asked him to attend the meeting on Monday.
He said it was not a communist way to bargain with the party after placing a demand. He should have explored the organizational means to air his issues.
Taking a lenient approach towards the maverick leader, Balakrishnan said the state secretariat resolution has not stated him as an anti-party man, but only made a reference to his anti-party attitude.
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