India Politics
Differences of opinion in CPI-M over team to protect Munnar
May 10, 2007 - 7:53:42 PM

Thiruvananthapuram, May 10 - The simmering difference between arch rivals Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and party secretary Pinnarayi Vijayan surfaced yet again in the naming of three officials by Achuthanandan for protecting the picturesque hill station in Munnar from encroachers.

Achuthanandan, after the cabinet meeting Wednesday, named Raju Narayana Swamy as the new collector of Idukki. Suresh Kumar, an IAS official in his office, and Inspector General of Police Rishi Raj Singh were also appointed to see that the encroachers are evicted.

However, at the Left Democratic Front meeting Wednesday evening, the names were objected to by Vijayan. 'But Achuthanandan was adamant and said all the three officials have a clean record and would do a good job in evicting the encroachers,' said a LDF leader on condition of anonymity.

This issue again surfaced at the five-member coordination committee of the CPI-M which met here Thursday, and Vijayan is learnt to have made it clear that there has to be another top official above the three member team already selected.

Achuthanandan Thursday also put his foot down and said that the three-member team cannot be changed and the appointment of another official above the team can be thought of later.

On Wednesday, the Kerala government decided to bring an ordinance declaring Munnar as a special area.

Munnar, in Idukki district, lies 6,000 ft above sea level and has, over the past few years, witnessed encroachment on protected land by the tourist resort mafia. Achuthanandan, after a visit to Munnar last month, decided that all illegal encroachments would be razed down.

Achuthanandan and Vijayan, both CPI-M politburo members, do not have the best of relations and at every given opportunity have been trying to outsmart each other.

So far, Vijayan has been more successful in putting Achuthanandan in the dock. This time, Achuthanandan apparently sees the Munnar issue as one on which he can turn the tables on Vijayan as the strong stand taken by him against the encroachers is certainly going to be highlighted as one of the achievements of his first year in office which falls May 18.

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