Unfazed by the organisational consequences, Communist Party of India-Marxist stalwart V S Achuthanandan Wednesday said he was dropped from the party politburo a few years back for telling the truth about a corruption case in which state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was facing inquiry.
The 88-year-old leader said he had told the politburo he could only stand by the truth in the matter and not by the official line of the party that it was a fabricated case.
Achuthanandan was referring to his removal from the CPI-M's apex body when he was chief minister in the context of charges brought against Vijayan pertaining to a contract awarded to Canadian company SNC Lavalin to renovate three power stations in Kerala, when the latter was electricity minister in 1997.
"I was dropped from the politburo for telling the truth that the deal with SNC Lavalin involved irregularity...It was the finding of the CAG...This was not a case framed to harm anybody," Achuthanandan, now leader of the opposition in the state, told Malayalam channel Mathrubhumi News.
"I told them (when the issue came up for discussion in the PB) that I could only stand by truth... I was dropped from the PB, to which I have been a member for over 24 years", Achuthanandan, a founder leader of the CPI-M, said.
"How could Vijayan become an accused in the case if there was nothing irregular in the case? The contention in the CBI report that he has not made any monetary advantage is supported only by the statement of a witness," he said.
The case pertains to an agreement with SNC Lavalin which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 374.50 crore to the exchequer.
The final agreement with the company was signed when Vijayan was power minister in the 1990s in the Left Democratic Front ministry headed by the late E K Nayanar.
The case has been investigated by the CBI and the trial is on in the CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram.
Achuthanandan, who led the LDF in the last four assembly polls, said he would not contest elections anymore considering his advanced age.
In the last two elections, he had bounced back to the poll arena despite his rivals in the party trying to keep him off the field.
For long, the leader has been at loggerheads with Vijayan, his protege once, over a host of issues. The tussle hotted up in the wake of the SNC Lavalin case.
On the state committee's recent decision to expel three of his personal staff members from the party, he said that was the decision targeted against him.
Asked whether he thought the party leadership had lost confidence in him, Achuthanandan said it was for the party to take a call on that. "If the party has lost confidence in me, why are they not throwing me out?," he asked.
The standoff between Achuthanandan and the leadership over the SNC Lavalin issue has been back in focus since last week with the state committee discussing a party probe which alleged that he had tried to turn the case against Vijayan.
Achuthanandan, however, rubbished that charge and said his views were not heard before the report was drawn up by CPI-M Lok Sabha member P Karunakaran, entrusted with the job by the party state committee.
The report, which was recently discussed by the CPI-M state committee, had accused Achuthanandan of having made some concerted moves to strengthen the case against Vijayan.