97-year-old Communist veteran Achuthanandan calls it a day


It was a foregone conclusion that one of the tallest leaders of the Communist movement in the country — V.S. Achuthanandan who is 97 years old — will not contest the April 6 assembly polls on account of his age.

And it became clear on Tuesday when the Palakkad district committee of the CPI-M decided not to put up his name for the Malampuzha assembly seat which he has been contesting successfully since 2001.

A seven-time legislator, Achuthanandan recently resigned the post that he held from 2016 when he was made the chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission — a post which was created for him that came with cabinet status, after Pinarayi Vijayan was made the Chief Minister.

In a political career that began in the 1940s, he first became a legislator in 1967 from Alappuzha district, the then fortress of the Communist movement, but when all set to become the chief minister in 1996, he suffered the worst ever jolt of his political career when he lost the assembly elections.

But it was only after his loss that his stock as a politician rose hugely and he went on to become the biggest crowd puller in Kerala politics.

However in 2006 he led the Left and became the Chief Minister till 2011 and at the subsequent elections, he almost created history, but Oommen Chandy led Congress’ UDF scraped through by winning with a margin of just two seats.

Even in the 2016 assembly polls, he was the most sought after campaigner by all the Left candidates, but eventually after leading the Left to a tumultuous victory he was virtually shown the exit door and Vijayan became the undisputed leader not just of the party, but even in the government.

Today, after the Covid pandemic, he has rarely been seen in public and lives with his son here, with visitors kept at bay.

And for the CPI-M, his absence from the crucial April 6 assembly polls campaign is going to be a huge loss.