The unauthorised tour of Gulf countries by Kerala Police's Inspector-General Tomin J Thachankery, his suspension by Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and the stay imposed by the Central Administrative Tribunal on the disciplinary action have caused a huge embarrassment to the CPI(M)-led LDF Government. Mr Achuthanandan had seen in Mr Thachankery's version of Arabian Nights an immense opportunity to deal a blow to his rival in the CPI(M), State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, whose neo-liberalist group is said to be protecting the senior IPS officer. The Chief Minister had acted against the official on the basis of reports that he had escorted a CPI(M) delegation, led by Mr Vijayan, to the Gulf and the findings of the inquiries conducted by the State DGP and ADGP (Intelligence). Mr Achuthanandan, it is believed, had acted without consulting Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a Polit Bureau member, which has once again revealed the distrust among the members of the Cabinet and the intensity of the faction war in the party. It is believed Mr Thachankery rushed to the Central Administrative Tribunal on the advice of the neo-liberal Marxists. This group is planning to launch a counter-offensive against Mr Achuthanandan at the State secretariat meeting to be held on Tuesday by accusing him of causing embarrassment with his hasty and unilateral decision.
Mr Thachankery had approached the Central Administrative Tribunal alleging that his suspension was politically motivated and that he was the victim of CPI(M) groupism. He also furnished documents to prove that the Government had shown favouritism in the case of certain other IAS and IPS officers who had travelled abroad without permission. Strangely, the State Advocate-General failed to appear in the Central Administrative Tribunal on Friday and thus did not present the statement of facts that Mr Achuthanandan had given him to support the Government's decision. The Advocate-General has said he did not get sufficient time to submit the statement to the tribunal but there are no takers for that claim; obviously there is more to his absence than meets the eye. Interestingly, Mr Thachankery, who enjoys the support of the Pinarayi faction, has in the past been accused of several wrong-doings. He has also been charged with amassing wealth well beyond his known and legitimate means. It is now almost certain that the Thachankery affair will cause big upsets for Mr Achuthanandan. On the one hand, he may not be able to win the case in the tribunal, while on the other he could face a concerted attack from his detractors in the party. However, the fact remains that this affair, like many others in the last four years of LDF rule, has proved that the State Government is a house divided, with factions pulling in opposite directions.