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Grand old man guns for top post

Even at the age of 83, V.S. Achuthanandan has lost none of his guile or grit.
None | By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 27, 2006 03:33 AM IST

Even at the age of 83, V.S. Achuthanandan has lost none of his guile or grit. From a tailoring assistant to a member of the CPM politburo —it has been a long trek for this school dropout.

Having emerged unscathed from an acrimonious party feud, VS is now being touted by supporters as the chief ministerial candidate. This is not the first time the hardliner has gunned for the CM's post. In 1991 and 1996, he missed it by a whisker.

His shocking defeat in Communist heartland Mararikulam and the elevation of E.K. Nayanar, who refused to contest on health grounds, as CM in 1996, is part of Kerala's political folklore. That defeat left a deeper wound than the scar on his left leg dating back to Punappara- Vayalar Communist uprising of the late forties. He avenged his humiliation by his infamous purge of rivals.

By taking up popular issues and waging a war against corruption in high places, he became a cult figure. Among his achievements include the palm oil case against former CM K. Karunakaran, corruption cases against former power minister R Balakrishna Pillai and the notorious icecream parlour sex racket.

But this hardliner's anti-development stand is a nightmare for the Buddha-clone comrades. In his eagerness to lead popular uprisings, he became a synonym for violent agitations.

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