Seventy two-year-old Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn in as chief minister for Kerala on Wednesday, bringing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) back to power after five years.
Thiruvananthapuram: LDF's Pinarayi Vijayan takes oath as the CM of Kerala pic.twitter.com/RT7Kd7RK0c— ANI (@ANI_news) May 25, 2016
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF won the May 16 assembly election, winning 91 of 140 seats in the state assembly. The incumbent Congress-led United Democratic Front was ousted by the electorate in keeping with the state’s anti-incumbency trend.
A pragmatist to the core, the Kannur strongman represents the modern face of Communists. Known for his realistic approach, Pinarayi is often referred to as the ‘Deng of Kerala’, after the late legendary Chinese statesman, Deng Xiaoping.
Pinarayi’s elevation was a relatively smooth affair given veteran VS Achuthanandan’s claim for the seat. In spite of the well-known acrimony between the two leaders, the 92-year-old graciously stepped aside following gentle persuasion from the party’s central leadership.
The son of a toddy tapper, Pinarayi was once aide to Achuthanandan and considered him his mentor. He was even part of Achuthanandan’s infamous ‘Vettineruthal’ – the ousting of revisionists from the party – in which senior leaders such as MV Raghavan and PV Kunhikannan, the then LDF convenor, were forced out. Soon, with Achuthanandan’s help, the economics graduate became party secretary after quitting his minister’s post in 1998.
Eventually the two fell out since both nourished parliamentary ambitions.
In the 2005 Malappuram party conclave, Pinarayi humiliated his mentor by defeating all his nominees in the state committee. This led to two powerful factions emerging within the state unit.
Pinarayi slowly but gradually took control of CPM in Kerala by sidelining or forcing out dissenters systematically.
The longest serving state secretary (1998-2015), he now comes back to power after a long gap.