Left back at helm: Pinarayi Vijayan takes oath as Kerala chief minister

  • Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Updated: May 25, 2016 17:21 IST
LDF leader Pinarayi Vijayan (PTI Photo)

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.

  • CPI treasurer E Chandrasekharan, who won from Kanhangad, takes oath as revenue minister; Thiruvalla legislator Mathew T Thomas of JD(S) takes oath as water resources minister; Elathoor MLA AK Saseendran of the NCP rakes oath as transport minister.
  • Kadannappalli Ramachandran takes oath as ports minister; AK Balan as law, culture and SC/ST minister; KT Jaleel as minister for local self government; EP Jayarajan of CPI(M) as sports and industry minister; Mercykutty Amma as the fisheries minister; and Kadakampalli Surendran as minister for electricity and Devaswoms.
  • Kerala governor P Sathasivam also administers oaths of office to 18 cabinet ministers -- 11 from the CPI-M, four from CPI, and one each from the Congress-S, Janata Dal (S) and the Nationalist Congress Party.
  • This is the second time that the swearing in ceremony is held outside the Raj Bhavan complex -- the official residence of the Kerala governor.
  • “Yes, the people of Kerala have high hopes in our new government and we will also rise to the occasion to make that a reality and deliver,” said Vijayan, soon after submitting his list of cabinet ministers to Kerala governor P Sathasivam.

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.

Read: Pinarayi Vijayan takes oath as Kerala CM: A look at his top picks

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.

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Pinarayi Vijayan takes oath as Kerala CM: A look at his top picks
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