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V. S. Achuthanandan
V.S. Achuthanandan speaking in an election campaign in 2016.
|4th Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission|
|Assumed office |
3 August 2016
|Preceded by||E.K. Nayanar.|
|Chief Minister of Kerala|
18 May 2006 – 18 May 2011
|Preceded by||Oommen Chandy|
|Succeeded by||Oommen Chandy|
|Leader of the Opposition, Kerala Legislature|
18 May 2011 – 24 May 2016
|Preceded by||Oommen Chandy|
|Succeeded by||Ramesh Chennithala|
17 May 2001 – 12 May 2006
|Preceded by||A. K. Antony|
|Succeeded by||Oommen Chandy|
1992 – 9 May 1996
|Preceded by||E. K. Nayanar|
|Succeeded by||A. K. Antony|
|Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State Committee|
|Preceded by||E.K. Nayanar|
|Succeeded by||E.K. Nayanar|
|Member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)|
29 December 1985 – 12 June 2009
Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan
20 October 1923
(now in Kerala, India)
|Political party||Communist Party of India (Marxist)|
|Spouse(s)||K. Vasumathy (Married 16 July 1967)|
|Children||Dr. V. A. Arunkumar|
Dr. V. V. Asha
|Residence||Punnapra North, Kerala Thiruvananthapuram|
Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan (born 20 October 1923) is an Indian politician who was Chief Minister of Kerala from 2006 to 2011. He was one of the founding leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and has played a major role in building the party cadre in the state of Kerala.
Achuthanandan was a member of the CPI(M) Politburo from 1985 until July 2009, when he was reverted to the Central Committee of the party owing to his ideological dispositions. He is a mass leader respected for integrity.
Achuthanandan initiated various actions as the Chief Minister, including: the demolition drive in Munnar which claimed back acres of illegally occupied land, the demolition drive in Kochi M. G. Road which claimed back the long lost shoulder of the road, anti-piracy drive against film-piracy, his struggle against the Lottery mafia in the state. He was instrumental in convicting former minister R. Balakrishna Pillai on charges of corruption. Achuthanandan also took the lead in promoting free software in the state, and especially in adopting free software in the public education system of the state.
After serving as Chief Minister, he was Leader of the Opposition in Kerala from 2011 to 2016. He has been Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission since 2016.
Born on 20 October 1923 to Sankaran and Accamma in Alappuzha, Travancore (part of present-day Kerala state, India), he lost his mother when he was four years old and subsequently lost his father at age 11. This forced him to quit his studies after finishing 7th standard in school and college He started working by helping his elder brother in a village tailoring shop. Later he took up the job of meshing coir to make ropes at a coir factory.
V.S started his early political life by organising the agricultural workers in Kuttanadu. He was a well dedicated organizer of coir factory workers at the age of 16 under A.K. Gopalan and A.V. Kunjambu. Even though V.S. Achuthanandan lacked formal education, he was noted for his simplicity, dedication and deep reading. He was initiated into the political movement by P. Krishna Pillai. Later he participated in the freedom movement and the Communist Movement. V.S was in the forefront of the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising and Freedom Struggle against the policies for C.P Ramaswamy Iyer, Divan of Travancore who wanted to establish an American model government in Travancore. He was arrested on 28 October 1946 and was taken to Poonjar police station. He was beaten up severely in the lock – up. Policemen pierced his sole in both legs with bayonet. V.S spent five and half years in jails and four years underground during his political life.
V.S Achuthanandan was in the forefront of the land struggles in Kerala starting with the Alappuzha declaration in 1970 demanding implementation of the Land Reforms Act passed by the EMS Government in 1967. Later his activities as the leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly had evoked good public response.
He entered politics through trade union activities and joined State Congress in 1938. In 1940, he became a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI). During his 40 years as a politician he was imprisoned for five years and six months and was in hiding for four and half years. He was a state secretariat member of the CPI in 1957. He is the only living Keralite among the 32 members who left the CPI National Council in 1964 to form the CPI(M). He was Secretary of the Kerala State Committee between 1980 and 1992. Since 1985 he is the member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau until he was removed as a party disciplinary action. He is the senior most leader of CPI(M) in India.
Achuthanandan has served many positions in his long political career. He was the Kerala State Secretary of the CPI(M) between 1980 and 1992 and he became a member of the Politburo in 1985. He has also been active in parliamentary politics; he was elected as a member of Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1967, 1970, 1991, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. He was the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly from 1992 to 1996, from 2001 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2016. He was the editor of CPI(M) mouth piece in Malayalam, Deshabhimani daily. He was the Chief Ministerial candidate for 1996 State elections. In those elections, LDF gained 80 out of 140 seats, but Achuthanandan, who contested from Mararikulam in Alappuzha district, lost by a margin of 1965 votes. Thus, E.K. Nayanar, who held the position twice earlier, became Chief Minister again.
During the assembly elections held in Kerala in April–May 2006, VS Achuthanandan defeated Satheesan Pacheeni of the United Democratic Front by a margin of 20,017 votes in Malampuzha constituency in Palakkad district. He was sworn in as Chief Minister of Kerala on 18 May 2006, with his 21-member cabinet. Aged 82 years and 7 months at time, he was the oldest Chief Minister of Kerala, and one of the oldest in the whole India. It is noticeable that he had been denied a party ticket to contest elections just two months before he sworn in. He became the 11th Chief Minister of Kerala. On 12 July the CPM Polit bureau and Central Committee removed him from the PB for his stands taken in relation to the accusation and legal procedures against Pinarayi Vijayan in his reported involvement in the Lavlin bribery.
In what can be considered as a near repeat of the 2006 pre-election build-up, the Politbureau of CPI-M impressed upon the state leadership to permit VS Achuthanandan to contest elections for the April 2011 Assembly election in Kerala. VS Achuthanandan contested from the Malampuzha Constituency and won with a margin of around 25,000 votes. It was the VS factor that had created history in the 2011 elections with the Opposition front UDF winning the elections on the margin of 72-68 assembly seats. This is considered as loss for UDF as they were ahead in 100 constituencies during the 2009 Lok Sabha Election. After this election VS has been considered the man behind the Uprising of LDF after the 2009 Parliament and 2010 Municipal election loses.
After decades of a consistent pattern of swing between two coalition in the state elections, where people voted against the incumbent government consistently, Achuthanandan boast of a government with a no anti-incumbency factor ending in a 68–72 tally in the 140 seat state Assembly elections.
On 12 May 2013, three of his personal staffs VK Sasidharan (additional private secretary), A Suresh (personal assistant) and K Balakrishnan (press secretary) were ousted by the Politburo, which was entrusted by the CPI(M) central committee to decide on the action to be taken against them. They were expelled on charges of leaking information to media, according to CPIM. With the decision, Achuthanandan's arch-rival and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan appears to have won. The state committee of the party where Vijayan has a huge majority also wanted Achuthanandan to be removed from the post of leader of opposition but this was not done. "This is a clipping of the wings of Achuthanandan", said K.M. Shahjahan.
In the 2016 Kerala Legislative Assembly election, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) secured a huge win with a total of 91 seats in 140 assembly constituencies. At the age of 92, VS travelled across the state campaigning for the party with much vigour. V S Achuthanandan also contested this election from Malampuzha constituency, where he won by a margin of 27,142 votes. Being the face and most recognizable leader of the front, he staked his claim to be the next Chief Minister. However, the State and Central leadership appointed Pinarayi Vijayan as Chief Minister instead.
Achuthanandan was appointed as Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission on 3 August 2016.
The anti-reclamation stir launched by the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) at Mankompu in 1996–97, under the leadership of Achuthanandan created much controversy. This stir was claimed to be highlighting the serious problem of the massive conversion of paddy fields into other type of land, affecting the food security of the Kerala. But this soon developed into a crop destruction drive. The protest got the sobriquet following the violent methods and crop destruction resorted to by the KSKTU cadre. The stir attracted lot of public attention and Achuthanandan was forced to express his disapproval of any destruction of crops. 15 Years later, in November 2011, a UDF Minister, who is politically opposed to Achuthanadan, justified this struggle. JanataDal Socialist leader and minister for Agriculture, K.P. Mohananan, MM,said, such a struggle was necessary as Conversion of Paddy fields to other type of crops is a serious concern.
V.A.Arun Kumar, son of V. S. Achuthanandan, was appointed as Additional Director for the Institute of Human Resources Development (IHRD), a state owned organization controlling a handful of state owned engineering colleges, technical schools and other institutions. This appointment is alleged to be irregular. It has been alleged that changes were made in the notification for appointing Mr. Arun Kumar and the existing qualifications of additional director were amended to enable V. A. Arun Kumar to apply for the post. This issue in now facing a Lokayukta enquiry as well as a Vigilance enquiry. He is facing yet another Lokayuktha enquiry regarding allegations related to the Model Finishing School of (IHRD).
Through his involvement in social, political issues and continues fight against corruption and sex, land, lottery mafias, he made lot of enemies from politics, religion, caste etc. and his political enemies reacted against him. A Kerala high court verdict undermined this - "Kerala High Court quashed the FIR against him in a land allotment issue, holding that framing a case against him on 'false and frivolous' charges was unworthy of any merit." The court said some features presented in the case were 'too disturbing', that in fact 'gives enough room to generate suspicion that the machinery of vigilance is misused and abused to silence political opponents.'
Justice S S Sateeshchandran, in his 64-page order, quashed the FIR against Achuthanandan, the first accused in the case, and all further proceedings against him Mathrubhumi (Posted on: 6 December 2012) [web.archive.org].
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| Chief Minister of Kerala
2006 – 2011