Pinarayi Vijayan is set to be the next Chief Minister of Kerala. The 72-year-old leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has steered the Left Democratic Front (LDF) to a spectacular win in the state, with Congress decimated at the hustings and the BJP managing just a token entry in the state Assembly.
The LDF, led by the CPI (M), won more than 90 seats out of 140, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) managed only 45 seats, even as the BJP opened its account with just one seat.
Vijayan was born to a toddy tapper’s family in northern Kerala’s Kannur district, a traditional stronghold of the communist party, in 1944.
After completing school, he worked as a hand-loom weaver briefly before joining the Government Brennen College in the neighbouring Thalassery district. Vijayan eventually graduated from the same college.
With the distinction of having served the longest stint as the communist party’s Kerala State Committee Secretary, from 1998-2015, the poor toddy-tapper's son has come a long way in life.
During his early days in college, Vijayan joined the students union and became deeply involved in political activities. He later joined the Communist Party in 1964 and went on to become the state president of the party’s students wing, now known as the Student’s Federation of India (SFI). Vijayan played a key role in protecting the organisation from the influence of extreme ideologies such as Naxalism, according to party sources.
The defining moment of Vijayan’s spectacular rise in politics was probably his selection as the CPI (M) district secretary in Kannur, following the exit of the veteran leader M.V Raghavan from the party.
Vijayan became a member of the party’s Kannur District Committee at the age of 24 and of the district secretariat at the age of 28. He was elected to the state legislative assembly four times -- in 1970, 1977, 1991 and 1996. He was the Minister for Electricity and Cooperation from 1996 to 1998, and was inducted into the CPI(M) politburo in 2002.
Vijayan has been at loggerheads with V.S. Achutanandan, who is the face of the communist party in Kerala. In 2007, both Vijayan and Achutanandan were suspended from the politburo for their remarks about each other.
Though Vijayan’s name had cropped up in a Rs 375-crore scam relating to irregularities in awarding of contracts for the repair and maintenance of three power plants in the state, he was later acquitted.
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