Thiruvananthapuram: Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader R. Selvaraj on Friday resigned as legislator, taking the party top brass by surprise and fuelling speculation that he was hand in glove with the rival United Democratic Front (UDF).
Selvaraj, 63, a two-time legislator, who represented the Neyyattinkara constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district, arrived at Speaker G. Karthikeyan's residence and put in his papers. "I have accepted his resignation because he came to me and submitted it," said Karthikeyan.
In a written statement, Selvaraj came down heavily on the Thiruvananthapuram district unit of his party. "It is a group of people who act as agents of middlemen which run the district party affairs," said Selvaraj.
Selvaraj, however, said it is better to commit suicide than join the Congress-led UDF.
This may be bad news for the CPI-M ahead of the Piravom byelection scheduled for March 17, touted as a fight to finish between the Left and the ruling UDF as the Oommen Chandy government has a wafer thin majority of just three seats in the 140-member assembly.
"The UDF has no role in his resignation and the picture is now clear that the factional feud in the CPI-M has reached a new level," said state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala.
Selvaraj is a known supporter of former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan whose faction in the CPM has weakened. Because of his closeness with the veteran, he was considered a stranger in the Thiruvananthapuram district unit of his party which is hugely dominated by the Pinarayi Vijayan faction.
Achuthanandan, however, alleged that Selvaraj's resignation indicated he was in league with the rival UDF. "He has been 'purchased' by the Congress-led UDF and his resignation was with the blessings of Chief Minister (Oommen) Chandy. He is airing baseless allegations of factional feuds in our party and he is doing that to stay afloat," said Achuthanandan.
But Chandy said that he is no one to say anything about happenings in any other party. Chandy, however, said: "Now that he has said he will have nothing to do with the UDF, what is the point of answering a question on whether he is going to join the UDF?"
The Thiruvananthapuram district unit of the party is in shock, with secretary K. Surendran saying he is a traitor.