Moving to avoid a potential face-off between two of its stalwarts in Kerala, the CPI(M) sought to strike a fine balance by naming the force behind its state organisation, Pinarayi Vijayan, as the legislative party leader, confirming his position as the next chief minister of the LDF government.
At the same time, party general secretary Sitaram Yechury indicated that the face behind the successful election campaign, former CM and 92-year-old veteran V S Achuthanandan, would have a larger role to play by describing him as the “Fidel Castro of Kerala” who will “advise and guide the party”.
Flanked by Achuthanandan and state party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Yechury said, “Considering Achuthanandan’s age, health and physical limitations today, and recognising his role… we have decided to propose Vijayan as the leader of the LDF legislative party.’’
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Responding to a specific question on Achuthanandan’s role, Yechury said, “I would like to say that he is like Fidel Castro for Kerala, advising, guiding and inspiring the government. Like Castro advising the Cuban government now, VS would play that role in Kerala.”
Achuthanandan did not speak to reporters and it remains to be seen whether he would remain content in the role of a “guide” or an “advisor”, particularly after he had indicated his willingness to become the chief minister in several interviews to media outlets during the campaign.
Sources close to Achuthanandan said he had conveyed his displeasure to Yechury at the CPI(M)’s state headquarters over the party’s reluctance to give him another term as chief minister.
With Achuthanandan as its star campaigner, the CPI(M)-led LDF returned to power in the state after five years by winning 91 seats in the 140-member assembly, leaving the Congress-led UDF with 47 seats. One seat each went to the BJP and an Independent candidate.