Will VS lead LDF again?

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N MuraleedharanThiruvananthapuram, Feb 27 (PTI) Will Kerala ChiefMinister V S Achuthanandan be back in the electoral arena as acontestant and leader of CPI(M)-led LDF in the assembly pollsjust two months away?This is the most keenly asked question in politicalcircles as the state braces up for polls.

Official explanation of the CPI(M) leadership on thefate of the 87-year-old veteran has so far been that "theparty will decide (about it) at the right time."Until a couple of months back, thinking in the party''sstate leaders had been that Achuthanandan would not in allprobability be a contestant himself but remain as the leadfigure in the LDF campaign.

The state party set-up, controlled by its secretaryPinarayi Vijayan, was certain that this line would be approvedby the central leadership as well.

But some dramatic developments in recent weeks appearto have brightened chances of Achuthanandan to continue to bethe central figure in Kerala''s bipolar polity, not just as ateam manager of the LDF but as the captain to lead from thefront.

The conviction of Kerala Congress(B) leader RBalakrishna Pillai in a graft case, resurfacing of allegationsagainst IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty in connection with "icecream parlour" sex scam and the attention regained bypalmolein case have made Achuthanandan to assert that hisstand on these issues had been vindicated.

As the Opposition leader in 2001-06, Achuthanandan hadplayed a vigorous role in pursuing these cases involvingleaders of the Congress-led UDF.

According to political observers here, if these issuesare going to be major themes in the LDF campaign, then thepresence of Achuthanandan as its main contest would be vitalto fully cash in on them.

It is by realising this possibility that the UDF, in achange of strategy, started singling out Achuthanandan forattack by unleashing a raft of allegations against his son VA Arun Kumar.

Earlier, UDF leaders had largely spared Achuthanandanwhile training their guns mostly at CPI-M leaders likeVijayan.

The final days of the Kerala Assembly had been stormywith Congress''s Chief Ministerial contender Oommen Chandy andhis colleagues making unsparing efforts to take the ChiefMinister to task by alleging that his son had often misusedhis father''s political clout for securing personal gains.

Arun Kumar, a technocrat and director of state-runInstitute of Human Resources Development, has threatened tosue those hurling charges at him. But the UDF leaders havekept up their attack on him. (More) PTI NM RC

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