Cracking the whip, Communist Party of India-Marxist on Wednesday removed its Idukki district secretary M M Mani from his post for his controversial speech that the party had eliminated political foes in the past, which had embarrassed the organisation and invited an all round condemnation.
The CPI-M state secretariat said action against Mani was taken as he had deviated from the party's stand in the controversial speech made at a public meeting in Idukki recently.
CPI-M Politburo had also directed the state unit to take disciplinary action against Mani, who had remained defiant and refused to quit the post despite all round condemnation of his speech and police filing murder cases against him.
"Mani's speech had been used by CPI-M's enemies to attack the party. The party had no role in the murders that took place in Idukki district in the past, as the Congress-led UDF and a section of the media being propagated," the CPI-M said in a release at the end of its two-day secretariat meeting.
While removing Mani from the party post, the secretariat also sought an explanation from him for his speech.
Earlier in the day, Mani failed to appear before the SIT for questioning, even as the party faced further embarrassment with another functionary asking the cadre to store chilli water to use it against police coming for probe.
In more trouble for the CPI-M leadership in Kerala, another party leader was booked on the charge of threatening police probing an IUML worker's murder.
Mani did not appear before the Special Investigation Team probing political murders since the 1980s, set up by the Congress-led UDF government after his stunning remarks, but deputed his lawyers to explain his position.
He also moved the High court seeking quashing of the case, contending it was "wrong and illegal" to file FIR on the basis of a speech.
Complicating matters for CPI-M, state Committee member M V Jayarajan asked party workers to store water mixed with chilli powder to counter police if they continued to "harass" them under the pretext of probe.
"CPI-M activists should store water mixed with chilli powder to counter police who visit their houses to probe cases against them," he said on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said such statements amounted to challenging the rule of law.
The CPI-M leadership in the state is already battling hard to remove the taint caused by the arrest of some of its workers in connection with the recent murder of Marxist rebel T P Chandrasekharan, who had floated his own outfit after his expulsion from the party.
The party is also struggling to cope with the open differences and public spat between party veteran V S Achuthanandan and his arch rival and state unit Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the wake of Chandrasekharan's murder.
In another development, police said a case was registered against CPI-M Kannur District Secretary P Jayarajan for threatening and levelling personal charges against policemen inquiring into an IUML activist's murder some months ago.