Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 30: The long-delayed booting out of three staff members of Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan from the Communist Party of India-Marxist got the green signal Sunday at the end of the party's three-day meeting here.
Official clarification on the matter, however, is pending.
Sources close to Achuthanandan say he has approached the national leadership, and the party state committee's decision will be taken up at the Jan 17 central committee meeting of the party in Kolkata.
Achuthanandan's press secretary K. Balakrishnan, his additional private secretary V.K. Sasidharan and personal assistant A. Suresh have been removed from the party after they were found guilty of leaking classified party information to the media.
The leaks related to deliberations of the party congress at Coimbatore in 2008, and were made to media in February 2010.
The CPI-M had formed a two-member probe committee to investigate the leaks. The explanation received from the three was not found acceptable, and the matter was reported first to the state party secretariat, following which it was conveyed to the state committee meeting held here over the past two days.
Sources close to the party revealed that two of Achuthanandan's close aides, S. Sarma and Mercykutty Amma, opposed the decision to boot out the three aides of the former chief minister.
Earlier in the day, arriving at the venue of the meeting, Achuthanandan told reporters that he was taking part in the meeting to find out what decision the state
committee would take on his staff. Emerging from the meeting, he refused to speak to with reporters.
Incidentally, Achuthanandan Sunday morning got in touch with the party national leadership and apprised it of what might happen.
With this development, the divide between Achuthanandan and the majority faction in the party led by party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has reached a new level.
This is not the first time the party has acted tough on Achuthanandan, stripping his close aides of party membership.
In the past, the party booted out his closest aide, K.M. Shahjahan, who was his assistant private secretary when Achuthanandan was Leader of Opposition (2001-06) and when he became the chief minister (2006-11). Even his IT advisor, Joseph Mathew, was sacked from the party.
All eyes are now on what action the veteran will take. Under party rules, those ousted from the party cannot be retained in employment by a party member.