Kerala’s iconic Marxist and former chief minister V S Achuthanandan turned 94 on Friday. Known as the state’s ‘Fidel Castro’, Achuthanandan, whose life has been a relentless struggle not only against injustice but also “revisionist” trends in his own movement, celebrated the day along with family members by cutting a cake at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury was among the first to wish the nonagenarian leader, who is currently the chairman of Kerala State Reforms Committee. Achuthanandan distributed sweets to party workers and well-wishers, including journalists who called on him in the morning at his residence.
A founder leader of CPI(M) in 1964 after splitting from CPI, Achuthanandan was a mass leader who went on to become the chief minister of the southern state from 2006 to 2011. During the subsequent Congress-led UDF rule, he was the opposition leader.
Velikkakath Sankaran Achuthanandan, popularly known as VS, was born on October 20, 1923 in a working class family in Punnapra in Alappuzha district. Compelled to end his education at the primary stage, he was soon attracted to the trade union movement in Alapuzha district.
His life since then has been inseparably linked with the history of the Communist movement in the state, including the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising, nationwide ban on the party following the ‘Calcutta thesis’, split in the movement, arrest of CPI(M) leaders during India-China war, emergency period and faction feuds in the party.
Achuthanandan was the main campaigner in the 2016 state assembly polls that saw the CPI(M)-led-LDF coming to power In Kerala with a massive mandate of 91 seats.