Says Pinarayi was not exempted from the list of accused

Veteran CPI(M) leader V.S. Achuthanandan has plunged the State CPI(M) into turmoil yet again stating that he was dropped from the party Polit Bureau because he stood by the truth that there was corruption in the SNC-Lavalin case.

In an interview given to a Malayalam TV news channel, Mr. Achuthanandan said he had taken the position, which ran counter to the stand taken by the Polit Bureau, because he sincerely believed it to be so. “When the Lavalin issue came up, I expressed a divergent view. Then I was told my position was not in consonance with the decision of the Polit Bureau and that I could not continue in the Polit Bureau. I said I agree. I will stand only by the truth,” he said. Asked to respond to the complaint of CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s supporters that his accusation was aimed at Mr. Vijayan, the veteran leader said though it might be so, he could not but stand by the truth. When pointed out that the CBI had concluded that Mr. Vijayan had not committed corruption at a personal level, he said that referred to only the evidence given by one of the witnesses. “If that were so, why was Vijayan not exempted from the list of accused,” he asked.

The SNC-Lavalin case relates to a contract awarded to the Canadian company for revival of three hydel projects when Mr. Vijayan was the State Power Minister during 1996-‘97.

The allegation is that the contract had resulted in loss of Rs.374.50 crore to the State exchequer. Mr. Vijayan has been arraigned as the eighth accused in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI).

With reference to the move against three key members of his personal staff, Mr. Achuthanandan said they were innocent and the move was clearly against him. He had strongly opposed the move, he said, and to a pointed question whether this meant the party had little faith in him, he replied, “It is for them (Central leadership) to say. Wouldn’t they expel me if they have no faith in me?”

Although reporters sought his clarification on the contents of his interview, Mr. Achuthanandan refused to offer any further comment. However, there was serious disquiet in the party over his statements and the faction loyal to the State party secretary is reported to be getting ready to lodge a formal complaint against him with the Central leadership.