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VS riding high on popularity wave

The party is still brooding over issues, but for electorate, Achuthanandan is their CM, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 21:36 IST

The party is still brooding over the contentious issue, but for the electorate of Malampuzha, Velikakath Shankaran Achuthanandan is their chief minister.

They cheer him wherever he goes: "Lead us, we're behind you." A wily politician, he's careful enough not to ruffle his opponents' feathers, at least for now.

Not surprising because Achuthanandan has more enemies in the party than outside.

That is why the other day he snubbed the scribe of a national channel who asked some embarrassing questions: "You are asking use less questions."

Often blunt and unpolished, this copybook Marxist neither has the intellectual calibre nor the sophistication of a JNU-educated Marxist. But this school dropout's words are sharp enough to make his critics wince.

The public outcry against the party for denying him a ticket and the Politburo's historic reversal of its own decision virtually made him a hero. Surrounded by a halo of greatness, the 83year-old crisscrosses the state with the energy of a 25-year-old.

And the party is exploiting his newfound charisma. Whether it will treat him with the same respect after the election is an interesting question.

In the race to build a red fortress in Kerala, he has little time for his own constituency, Malampuzha.

After filing his papers two weeks back, he returned to the place only the other day. His electorate knows well that his hands are full.

Malampuzha, known for its scenic splendor, has never deserted the reds. Though last time he saved his skin with a slender margin of 4,700 votes, the scene is different now.

With his newfound status and the CM candidate tag, he is unassailable there. The sweltering heat of April (usually the temperature is 2-3 degrees higher than the state average) fails to dampen the poll heat. Since VS is in their midst, workers feel doubly energised.