KOCHI: The CPM has painted Kochi red as it prepares to host the three-day state conference from March 1, but the portrait of VS Achuthanandan, 98, the party’s only living founding member, shines by its absence from the streets and main venue, although posters of all prominent leaders past and present are on display.
VS, as the former chief minister is popularly known, is now bedridden. But ignoring the only surviving member of the 32 who left the CPI National Council in 1964 to form the CPM is surprising, given that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had given up his bitter fight with Achuthanandan long ago. Additionally, Achuthanandan was appointed chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission with ministerial rank in the first Pinarayi government.
Portraits of other founding members including EMS Namboodiripad, AK Gopalan, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu are prominently displayed in the streets and on Marine Drive, the main venue. Other party leaders like Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, Pinarayi and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also have pride of place.
“Decency demands that the VS portrait be placed at the CPM conference venue“
Sources said the party chose to display only the portraits of its politburo members and deceased leaders. “You shouldn’t read too much into it. It’s just that we have decided to only display the portraits and banners of our deceased Politburo members and leaders,” a source said.
The party’s decision to ignore Achuthanandan surprised political observers. Political analyst J Prabhash said the party might have decided to include only deceased leaders or those in the politburo in its posters, but Achuthanandan might have been an exception. “Anyway, he’s unfit. A modicum of ethics and decency demands that the VS portrait be placed on the site or on the streets,” Prabhash said.