V. S. Achuthanandan

Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan (born 20 October 1923) is an Indian politician who was the Chief Minister of Kerala from 2006 to 2011. He served as the chairman of Administrative reforms in Kerala from 2016 to 2021.

V. S. Achuthanandan
V.S. Achuthanandan @ 2016 Election campaign venue of V.B. Binu 03.jpg
Achuthanandan in 2016
Member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly
Assumed office
5 June 2001 (2001-06-05)
Preceded byT. Sivadasa Menon
ConstituencyMalampuzha
4th Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission
Governor
Preceded byE. K. Nayanar[1]
4th Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission
In office
3 August 2016 (2016-08-03) – 30 January 2021 (2021-01-30)
Preceded byE. K. Nayanar
11th Chief Minister of Kerala
In office
18 May 2006 (2006-05-18) – 14 May 2011 (2011-05-14)
GovernorR. L. Bhatia
R. S. Gavai
Preceded byOommen Chandy
Succeeded byOommen Chandy
ConstituencyMalampuzha
Leader of the Opposition, Kerala Legislative Assembly
In office
18 May 2011 (2011-05-18) – 25 May 2016 (2016-05-25)
Preceded byOommen Chandy
Succeeded byRamesh Chennithala
In office
17 May 2001 (2001-05-17) – 12 May 2006 (2006-05-12)
Preceded byA. K. Antony
Succeeded byOommen Chandy
ConstituencyMalampuzha
In office
1992 (1992) – 9 May 1996 (1996-05-09)
Preceded byE. K. Nayanar
Succeeded byA. K. Antony
ConstituencyMararikulam
Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State Committee
In office
1980 (1980) – 1992 (1992)
Preceded byE. K. Nayanar
Succeeded byE. K. Nayanar
Member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
In office
29 December 1985 (1985-12-29) – 12 June 2009 (2009-06-12)
Personal details
Born
V. S. Achuthanandan

(1923-10-20) 20 October 1923 (age 97)
Alleppey, Kingdom of Travancore, British India
(present day Alappuzha, Kerala, India)
Political partyCommunist Party of India (Marxist)
Spouse(s)
K. Vasumathy
(m. 1967)
Children2
ResidencePunnapra North, Kerala Thiruvananthapuram
Websitewww.vsachuthanandan.in

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.[2] He is a mass leader respected for his integrity.[3]

Achuthanandan initiated various actions as the Chief Minister, including: the demolition drive in Munnar which claimed back acres of illegally occupied land,[4] 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.[5][6] 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.[7]

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 from 2016 to 2021.

Early lifeEdit

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[8] 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.[9][10]

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 against the policies of 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.[11][12]

Political lifeEdit

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.[13] He is the only living Keralite among the 32 members who left the CPI National Council in 1964 to form the CPI(M).[14] He was the Secretary of the Kerala State Committee between 1980 and 1992. He was a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau since 1985 until he was removed as a party disciplinary action. He is the senior most leader of CPI(M) in India.[citation needed]

LeadershipEdit

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.

Chief MinistershipEdit

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 2009, the CPI(M) 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.[15]

2011 Assembly electionEdit

The CPI(M) denied a seat to Achuthanandan for the 2011 assembly election. Protests took place across the state and even on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and via SMS.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

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.

Removal of personal staffEdit

 
V.S. campaigning for LDF candidate V.B. Binu in Kanjirappally legislative constituency (2016 Assembly elections).

On 12 May 2013, three of his personal staffs V.K. 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 CPI(M).[19] 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.[20]

2016 Assembly electionsEdit

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, Achuthanandan travelled across the state campaigning for the party with much vigour. Achuthanandan contested this election from Malampuzha constituency, where he won by a margin of 27,142 votes with C. Krishnakumar ending up as the runner-up. Being the face and most recognizable leader of the front, it was assumed that he would be the chief minister. However considering his advanced age and failing health, the State and Central leadership appointed Pinarayi Vijayan as the Chief Minister instead.

Achuthanandan was appointed as Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission on 3 August 2016.[21]

CPI(M) dubbed him as "Fidel Castro of India" for his active role in the Communist movement in Kerala in general, and winning the elections, in particular.

Major achievementsEdit

  • Initiated action against encroachment on government land in the hill resort and tea plantation town of Munnar.[22][23]
  • On 30 December 2007, he became the first Communist CM to trek to Sabarimala. The 84-year-old Achuthanandan rejected any sort of physical or medical support which worried his doctors.[24]
  • V S Achuthanandan supports free and open source software movement in the state and Richard Stallman has also supported his activities regarding this.[25]
  • IT park in Kollam- Kollam Technopark . The IT park is initiated, planned and constructed during while VS was also the IT minister of the state.
  • IT park in Thrissur- Koratty IT park. The IT park is initiated, planned, constructed and fully occpupied by IT companies during his tenure as IT minister. Phase two of the project is also initiated.
  • Major developments in Kochi Infopark including Infopark second phase
  • Major developments in Trivandrum Technopark including 2nd and 3rd phases of Technopark and technocity
  • IT parks in Alappuzha including one at cherthala and one at ambalappuzha
  • IT park in Kozhikkode- Cyberpark
  • Major IT export growth during his tenure surpassing national average.
  • Major renovation of Malampuzha Tourist destination
  • AshtaMudi tourism circuit in Kollam
  • Closing down of illegal lottery mafia from state
  • Major initiation against resort mafia including ordinance to take over Kovalam palace
  • Chamravattom regulator cum bridge a major project of Malappuram and completed during his tenure as CM
  • Vallarpadom transshipment hub project has completed during the tenure of VS as CM. Though it is a central government project, VS has strong steps to take over land required for road and rail lines of the project
  • VS filed and Won the case against Manorama for illegally occupying 400 acres of land of panthaloor temple.

IssuesEdit

ControversiesEdit

  • During the 2006 Assembly Elections, the party had to reverse its decision of not fielding Achuthanandan as a candidate. This was in reaction to organised protest marches by CPI(M) sympathisers across the state.
  • He initiated the Munnar eviction mission. Massive portions of land allegedly grabbed over the years by resort owners and multinational companies like Tata Tea Limited. Special task force chief K. Suresh Kumar said, 250 acres of government land in the Munnar hill station took over from alleged encroachers also includes 50.72 acres of malayalam actor Mammootty, his wife Sulfi and two children.[26] Later, the demolition team landed in the city of Kochi, and other cities in Kerala and recovered huge parts of land. The District Collector Raju Narayana Swamy, Inspector General of Police and the Person in charge were replaced. Meanwhile, Achuthanandan said that the Munnar mission would continue vigorously and extended to other areas[27][28][29]
  • While he was the chief minister of the state, he had to frequently face struggle with Pinarayi Vijayan, the powerful head of the party which led the ruling coalition. Both of them headed for showdowns, which often prevented Achuthanandan from taking strong decisions. This power struggle often turned worse as both attacking each other. As a result, this group fight created two set of party leaders and even the ministers in the government, the name called the VS group and the Pinarayi group.[30][31]
  • During the CPM state conference held in Kottayam, he was criticized strongly due to his style of functioning by a majority of Pinarayi Vijayan supporters (38/53) known as official faction and they demanded his ouster from Chief Minister. They warned that the party would lose seats if it goes for ahead parliamentary elections under his leadership.[32][33]
  • On 10 July 2013, The High Court demanded a vigilance investigation against Achuthanandan for irregularities regarding funds up to 3 crore Rupees taken from the State Treasury. These funds were used to hire expensive out-of-state lawyers who appeared for the trail of cases against mafias in high court when he was CM.
  • Achuthanandan was heavily criticized for his allegedly insensitive comments in regards to the family of the late NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who was slain while defending the city of Mumbai during the 2008 terrorist attacks. Under public criticism for not visiting the mourning family, the CM finally decided to visit them. But allegedly agitated by the perceived insult and insensitivity in sending police dogs to check in a house in mourning as well as Achuthanandan's not offering condolences in a timely manner, Sandeep's father requested that the minister not visit. When Achuthanandan attempted to enter the house, he was evicted by the father on live TV.[34][35] Smarting from the snub, Achuthanandan stated during a TV interview that "Is there any rule that both the Karnataka Chief Minister and Kerala Chief Minister should go together to his (Sandeep's) home? If it were not that it was Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have gone there."(translated to English from his reply in Malayalam).[36] Faced by heavy public criticism and furor over this, Achuthanandan eventually offered a public apology, which was accepted by Sandeep's father, bringing an end to the controversy.[37]

The drive to reclaim paddy landEdit

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.[38] 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.

In popular cultureEdit

AwardsEdit

  • Pravasi Express Awards Lifetime Achievement Award 2013
  • Ali Hassan Memorial Samskarika Samithi Award
  • Velu Thampi Memorial National Award
  • S Sivasankara Pillai memorial Award
  • News Maker of the year Award
  • Janasevana Praveen Award
  • P Palpu Foundation Award
  • PS John Endowment Award
  • NC Sekhar Award

BooksEdit

  • KERALA VIKASANA SANKALPANGAL
  • SAMARATHINU IDAVELAKALILLA
  • IDAPEDALUKALKKU AVASANAMILLA

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "3rd Kerala ARC".
  2. ^ "CPM drops VS from Politburo". The Indian Express. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ Former Kerala CM Achuthanandan acquitted | Tehelka.com
  4. ^ "Kerala govt cleans up Munnar for tourists". DNA. 10 May 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  5. ^ Iyer, V. R. Krishna (19 February 2011). "Jail for one corrupt politician". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  6. ^ "V.S. Achuthanandan vs R. Balakrishna Pillai on 13 May 1994". Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Government will popularise free software, says Achuthanandan". The Hindu. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Shri V. S. Achuthanandan, heavily cricized Criticized by his own party for donating blood to indian soldiers during indo china war Profile". Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  9. ^ "V S Achuthanandan: No movies for 30 years, no school beyond Class 7, his first job was weaving coir mattresses". The Indian Express. India.
  10. ^ "Profile of Achuthanandan". Niyamasabha.org. Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  11. ^ V.S Achuthanandan
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "During China war, comrades cracked down on VS for saying let's give blood to jawans". The Indian Express.
  14. ^ Nair, C. Gouridasan (21 March 2016). "The man of the masses". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Kerala CM Achuthanandan removed from CPM politburo". The Economic Times. 12 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Achuthanandan not contesting in the election". The Hindu. India. 27 March 2011.
  17. ^ "CPM drops, takes back warhorse Achuthanandan". The Indian Express. India. 18 March 2011.
  18. ^ "UDF wins Kerala, but loses to Achuthanandan". ZEE News. 13 May 2011.
  19. ^ Manorama Online | English News | Kerala Archived 29 June 2013 at Archive.today
  20. ^ Three close aides of Achuthanandan thrown out of CPI-M | Business Standard
  21. ^ C. Gouridasan Nair, "V.S. Achuthanandan to head Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission", The Hindu, 3 August 2016.
  22. ^ govt. to deal sternly with Munnar encroachers The Hindu dated 23Jan2010
  23. ^ Munnar’s illegal constructions to be demolished Thaindian dated 30 January 2010
  24. ^ [1] Archived 5 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Kerala logs on to free software". Linux and Open Source Blog.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "Comrades refuse to back down - CM marches ahead with Munnar, rival wields axe". The Telegraph. India.
  27. ^ "Mission Munnar-Comrade on a bulldozer". The Tribune. India.
  28. ^ "Government a total failure: Sudheeran". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 September 2007.
  29. ^ "Kerala Model". The Verdict India. Archived from the original on 12 March 2008.
  30. ^ "Achuthanandan, Pinarayi head for showdown". Deccan Herald. India. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008.
  31. ^ "VS vs Pinarayi The long and short of it". Hard News. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007.
  32. ^ "State leaders seek Kerala CM's ouster". Khaleej Times. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008.
  33. ^ "Majority in CPM wants Achuthanandan out". DNA. 13 February 2008.
  34. ^ "Major Unnikrishnan's father refuses to meet Kerala CM". The Times of India. 30 November 2008.
  35. ^ Achuthanandan snubbed by slain Major's father NDTV Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14810092 Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Kerala CM Achuthanandan finally says 'sorry' - Indian Express
  38. ^ malayalam news-kp mohanan sopports vs strike

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Oommen Chandy
Chief Minister of Kerala
2006 – 2011
Succeeded by
Oommen Chandy