THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The red star credited with pitch-forking the Left back to power in Kerala is set to fade into the sunset.
Soon after the Left Democratic Front (LDF) scored an emphatic victory in the recently concluded state assembly elections, the central leadership bypassed 93-yearold VS Achuthanandan – said to be the main architect of the coalition’s victory – for chief ministership on account of his “poor health”.
Achuthanandan was told at the eleventh hour that the decision was taken because of his age, although that didn’t seem to be a problem when he was leading the LDF’s election campaign until a month ago.
Interestingly, only a week before the results came out, CPI( M) g eneral secretary Sitaram Yechury accorded a ‘red salute’ to the aged leader and asked youth leaders to take a leaf out of his book. However, Yechury announced on Friday that Pinarayi Vijayan would be the new CM and Achuthanandan would be “Kerala’s Fidel Castro” – hinting that he would be keptpt in an advisory position.
Go ing by Achuthanandan’sandan’s record, he is unlikelyly to suf-suffer this ‘humilia-miliation’ in silence.nce. A statement made to the media that he would rather be seen as a “watchdog” means chief minister designate Vijayan – his archfoe in the party for over two decades – might have to put up with the CPI(M) veteran breathing down his neck for the whole of his tenure. “Till my last breath, I will continue to fighfight against corruption and communalism,”munalism he said in a recent Facebook post. The momood in the Achuthana Achuthanandan camp is that of reresentment. “PeoplePeopl thronged in largela numbb er s to h hear him. Th e ve rdict was for VS. How can you ignore him after crossing the hurdle with his help?” asked a supporter.
Hectic efforts are on to placate Achuthanandan, the only surviving member of the 32-strong group that walked out of the Communist Party of India to form the CPI(M) in 1964.
Worried over the mounting sympathy for the sidelined leader, the party leadership is keen to accommodate him in a key post – such as an advisor to the government with cabinet rank. Even his son has reportedly been offered a plum post, possibly as the chairman of a state PSU, to rein in his fury. But knowing how much Achuthanandan prizes his image and pride, he’s unlikely to take up any of the offers.