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Pinarayi Vijayan: A powerful CM

Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala and a Member of the Communist party of India (Marxist), “Politbureau”, the supreme body of the party – is one of the most powerful Chief Minister’s, the state has ever seen. The CPI (M), has elected Pinarayi Vijayan as the Legislative Party Leader following the land slide victory of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the party in the state Assembly Elections in May, 2016. Following this, the Left Democratic Front also selected him as the leader of the LDF to head the new Government.

On 25th May 2016, the LDF Government led by the veteran CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn in before a massive audience including leaders, members and sympathizers of the LDF and officials of the Government. Among those prominent personalities who attended the swearing in ceremony of the Pinaryi Vijayan led LDF Government include: H.D. Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister of India and Janata Dal (Secular) President, CPI(M) Politbureau Member and former General Secretary, Prakash Karat, Former Chief Ministers of Kerala Oommen Chandy and V. S. Achuthanandan.

A 19 member cabinet representing different constituents of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was also sworn in along with Pinarayi Vijayan. Unlike in the previous LDF and UDF Governments, the Chief Minster himself will hold charge of the major portfolios like Home and Vigilance, apart from other portfolios that the Chief Ministers usually hold charge of. The Chief Minister will also hold charge of the other Portfolios which are otherwise not mentioned anywhere. Before becoming the Chief Minister of the state, he was the Kerala State Secretary of the CPI (M) for almost sixteen years during which period, the state has witnessed a tremendous growth of the party.

Entry into Politics

Pinarayi’s political career began through the Students Federation while studying at the Government Brennen College, Thalasserry. He joined the Communist Party of India in 1964. He was elected first as the district Secretary of the Kerala Students Federation (KSF), and later elevated to the position of State Secretary of the KSF and then as President of KSF which was later on renamed as Students Federation of India (SFI). He then started his activities with the Kerala State Youth Federation (KSYF) and became the State President of it.The KSYF later on came to be known as Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). During this period, the Communist Party in Kerala was organizing its political activities from different hideouts. Pinarayi was arrested during this period and was imprisoned for almost one and half years.

Later on Pinarayi Vijayan was elected as the President of the Kerala State Cooperative Bank. He became the CPI (M) Kannur District Secretary, when M.V. Raghavan left the party following the controversies over the ‘ alternative document’ issue in the party. Within a short span of three years, Pinarayi was elevated to the rank of Kerala State Secreariat Member of the CPI (M). During the internal Emergency in India declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in June, 1975, Pinarayi was arrested and imprisoned. Pinarayi Vijayan was elected to the Kerala Legislature from Koothuparamba in 1970, 1977 and 1991 and from Payyannur in 1996. He is elected to the Kerala Assembly from Dharmadom Assembly constituency in May, 2016. Pinarayi Vijayan was elected to the CPI (M) Politbureau in the year 2002.

Electoral Victories

In the 1970, Assembly elections, Pinarayi was elected from the Koothuparamba constituency with a margin of 743 votes defeating his nearest rival Thayath Raghavan of the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). In 1977, he was elected again from Koothuparamba with a margin of 4,401 votes defeating his nearest rival Abdulkadar of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). He was again elected from Koothuparamba consitituency in 1991, with

an increased margin of 12,960 votes defeating his nearest rival P. Ramakrishnan of the Indian National Congress (INC). Pinarayi Vijayan was elected to the state Assembly from Payyannur constituency in 1996, defeating his nearest rival K. N. Kannoth of the Indian National Congress (INC), with a margin of 28,078 votes. In the last General elections to the Kerala Assembly held in May, 2016, Pinarayi Vijayan was elected from Dharmadom with a margin of 36,905 votes against his nearest rival and Indian National Congress (INC) candidate Mambaram Divakaran. During the period from 1996 to 1998, Pinarayi Vijayan was a Minister in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government led by veteran Communist leader E. K. Nayanar. In the Nayanar Ministry, he was holding charge of the Electricity and Co-operation Portfolios.

The Lavalin Controversy

The SNC Lavalin controversy was a major case that rocked the Kerala Politics during his tenure as Minister for Electricity. The Controller and Auditor General of India has reported that the agreement that had been reached between Pinarayi Vijayan as the Electricity Minister and SNC Lavalin, a Canadian Company had cost the state exchequer a staggering Rs. 375 crores in 1998. However, there were also reports that the Comptroller and Auditor General did not report any loss to the state exchequer, but that the project did not yield the expected gain. Actually, the deal was for the repair of the three generators of the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Minister had nothing to do with it. The only thing was that Pinarayi Vijayan was happened to be the State Electricity Minister then.

However, the Kerala High Court had ordered a CBI enquiry into the SNC Lavalin case on January 16, 2007. On January 21, 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a progress report of the investigation in the Kerala High Court in which Pinarayi Vijayan has been named as the 9th accused in the case. Anyhow, allowing a plea by Pinarayi Vijayan seeking to remove his name from the list of accused in the case, the CBI Special Court discharged Pinarayi Vijayan and the others accused in the case from the list of accused in the SNC Lavalin case. The court also held that, “there isn’t any proof of dishonest and fraudulent intentions, will be a Government that will work abuse of official position and cheating”.

Before assuming office as Chief Minister of the state, Pinarayi Vijayan said, “We will ensure that we will be a Government that will work for the betterment of the people and it would have to be devoid of any preference given for caste, creed or communities; instead it will be one for all the people”.

For someone who has suffered much in life and proved his mettle as a hard-fisted organization man and able administrator, the mantle of Chief Minister of Kerala is certain to sit lightly on 72-year-old CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Pinarayi Vijayan.

Born in a toddy tapper family of Kannur, Vijayan rose through the ranks of the CPI(M) fighting poverty and hardship. That experience probably steeled his will to face adversities, which came his way in abundant measure at the time of Emergency and defending the CPI(M) against its sworn enemies, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in the violence-prone Kannur district. He has demonstrated his skill as an able administrator when he became Minister for Electricity and Co-operation in the 1996, Nayanar Government. Pinarayi Vijayan has proved his worth as a no-nonsense organisation man when he was chosen the CPI (M) State Secretary in 1998.

The Family and Early Life

Pinarayi Vijayan was born on May 24, 1945, in a toddy tappers family of Pinarayi in the erstwhile Malabar Disrict (Presently Kannur District) as the youngest son of Koran and Kalyani. After completing his secondary school education, he has worked as a handloom weaver for an year, before joining for Pre-University course in the government Brennen College, Thalasserry. Pinarayi Vijayan is married to Kamala, and the couple have two children, Veena and Vivek.


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