V. S. Achuthanandan

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V.S. Achuthanandan
V. S. Achuthanandan 2008.jpg
V.S. Achuthanandan speaking in a public meeting in 2008.
Chief Minister of Kerala
In office
May 18, 2006 – May 14, 2011
Preceded by Oommen Chandy
Succeeded by Oommen Chandy
Constituency Malampuzha
Leader of the Opposition Kerala Legislature
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 18, 2011
Preceded by Oommen Chandy
Constituency Malampuzha
In office
May 17, 2001 – May 12, 2006
Preceded by A. K. Antony
Succeeded by Oommen Chandy
Constituency Malampuzha
Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State Committee
In office
1980–1992
Preceded by E.K. Nayanar
Succeeded by E.K. Nayanar
Member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
In office
1985–2009
Personal details
Born (1923-10-20) 20 October 1923 (age 91)
Alappuzha, Travancore
Political party Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI-M-flag.svg
Spouse(s) K. Vasumathy (Married 18 July 1967)
Children Dr. V. A. Arunkumar
Dr. V. V. Asha
Residence Thiruvananthapuram

Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan (Malayalam : വേലിക്കകത്ത് ശങ്കരന്‍ അച്യുതാനന്ദന്‍) (born 20 October 1923) is an Indian politician who was Chief Minister of Kerala from 2006 to 2011. He has been Leader of the Opposition in Kerala since 2011. Achuthanandan was a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) beginning in 1985, and until July 2009, when he was reverted to the Central Committee of the party owing to his ideological dispositions.[1] He is a mass leader respected for integrity.[2]

Achuthanandan was one of the founding leaders of the CPI (M) in India, and has played a major role in building the party cadre in the state of Kerala.[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]

Early life[edit]

Born on 20 October 1923 to Sankaran and Accamma in Alappuzha district of Kerala state, 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.[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 lack formal education, he was noted for his simplicity, dedication and deep reading. He was initiated into the political movement by Com. 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. Com. 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 life[edit]

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. During the Sino-Indian war in 1962, he was with the nationalists in the party, supporting Indian side. EMS announced in Thalassery that disciplinary action is taken against V.S Achuthanandan along with O.p .Joseph (secretariat members) who were involved in factional activities. He was demoted in the party rank when he participated in a blood donation camp to help Indian soldiers.[13] 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 Kerala.

Leadership[edit]

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 and 2006. He was the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly from 1992 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006. He was the editor of CPI(M) mouth piece in Malayalam, Deshabhimani daily.

2006 Assembly Elections/Removal from PB in July 2009[edit]

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.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.

2011 Assembly election[edit]

Denial of seat[edit]

The CPI(M) denied 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.[14]

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[15] VS Achuthanandan contested from the Malampuzha Constituency and won with a margin of around 25K 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 had victory 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.[16]

The elections[edit]

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 staff[edit]

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.[17] 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.[18]

Major achievements[edit]

  • Initiated action against encroachment on government land in the hill resort and tea plantation town of Munnar.[19][20]
  • On 30 December 2007, he became the first Communist CM to trek to the 4000-year-old hill temple of Sabarimala. The 84-year-old Achuthanandan rejected any sort of physical or medical support which worried his doctors.[21]
  • V S Achuthanandan supports free and open source software movement in the state and Richard Stallman has also supported his activities regarding this.[22]
  • 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
  • VS initiated all the process to start the construction of Kochi Metro from state government however central government did not approve the project citing Financial reasons
  • Chamravattom regulator cum bridge a major project of mallappuram and completed during his tenure as CM
  • Vallarpadom transshipment hub project has completed during the tenure of VS as CM. Though its a central government project, VS has strong steps to take over land required for road and rail lines of the project

Issues[edit]

Controversies[edit]

  • During the 2006 Assembly Elections, the party had to revert its decision of not to field 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. Later, the demolition team landed in the city of Kochi, and other cities in Kerala and recovered huge parts of land. Then the mission stalled when it caught CPI(M) and even the team which led it was orphaned. The District Collector Raju Narayana Swamy, Inspector General of Police and the Person in charge were replaced. As the opponents claim, this may cause to have lost some credibility of the government. Meanwhile, Achuthanandan said that the Munnar mission would continue vigorously and extended to other areas[23][24][25]
  • 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.[26][27]
  • 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.[28][29]
  • 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.[30][31] 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).[32] 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.[33]

The drive to reclaim paddy land[edit]

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.[34] JanataDal Socialist leader and minister for Agriculture, K.P. Mohananan, said, such a struggle was necessary as Conversion of Paddy fields to other type of crops is a serious concern.

Allegations of misuse of power[edit]

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.[35][36][37][38] 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.[35] This issue in now facing a Lokayukta enquiry as well as a Vigilance[39][40] enquiry. He is facing yet another Lokayuktha enquiry regarding allegations related to the Model Finishing School of (IHRD).[41]

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: 06 Dec 2012) http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/story.php?id=130898.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Malayalam film 15 August, the character of Chief Minister of Kerala played by actor Nedumudi Venu was inspired by the political life of V. S. Achuthanandan.
  • Thilakan portrayed the role of Chief Minister, which was closely modeled on V.S.Achuthanandan, in the film Ayudham
Preceded by
Oommen Chandy
Chief Minister of Kerala
2006–2011
Succeeded by
Oommen Chandy

Awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CPM drops VS from Politburo". The Indian Express. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Former Kerala CM Achuthanandan acquitted | Tehelka.com
  3. ^ "V.S. Achuthanandan - Profile". Retrieved 29 October 2011. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Kerala govt cleans up Munnar for tourists". DNA. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "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. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  8. ^ http://www.kerala.gov.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=124&Itemid=3049[dead link]
  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 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  11. ^ V.S Achuthanandan
  12. ^ http://www.samyukta.info/archives/vol_1_1/article/sasidharan/the%20punnapra-vayalar%20revolt%20and%20freedom%20movement.htm
  13. ^ "During China war, comrades cracked down on VS for saying let’s give blood to jawans". The Indian Express. 
  14. ^ "Achuthanandan not contesting in the election". The Hindu (India). 27 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "CPM drops, takes back warhorse Achuthanandan". The Indian Express (India). 18 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "UDF wins Kerala, but loses to Achuthanandan". ZEE News. 13 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Manorama Online | English News | Kerala
  18. ^ Three close aides of Achuthanandan thrown out of CPI-M | Business Standard
  19. ^ govt. to deal sternly with Munnar encroachers The Hindu dated 23Jan2010
  20. ^ Munnar’s illegal constructions to be demolished Thaiindian dated 30Jan2010
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ "Kerala logs on to free software". Linux and Open Source Blog. 
  23. ^ "Mission Munnar-Comrade on a bulldozer". The Tribune. India. 
  24. ^ "Government a total failure: Sudheeran". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 28 September 2007. 
  25. ^ "Kerala Model". The Verdict India. 
  26. ^ "Achuthanandan, Pinarayi head for showdown". Deccan Herald. India. [dead link]
  27. ^ "VS vs Pinarayi The long and short of it". Hard News. [dead link]
  28. ^ "State leaders seek Kerala CM’s ouster". Khaleej Times. 
  29. ^ "Majority in CPM wants Achuthanandan out". DNA. 
  30. ^ "Major Unnikrishnan's father refuses to meet Kerala CM". Times of India. 30 November 2008. 
  31. ^ Achuthanandan snubbed by slain Major's father NDTV[dead link]
  32. ^ http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14810092[dead link]
  33. ^ Kerala CM Achuthanandan finally says 'sorry' - Indian Express
  34. ^ malayalam news-kp mohanan sopports vs strike
  35. ^ a b The Hindu 27 February 2011. Hindu.com (27 February 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  36. ^ The Hindu.com 26 February 2011. Hindu.com (26 February 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  37. ^ ExpressBuzz. ExpressBuzz (9 April 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  38. ^ ExpressBuzz. ExpressBuzz (3 March 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  39. ^ ExpressBuzz. ExpressBuzz (11 June 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  40. ^ The Hindu 17 June 2011. Hindu.com (17 June 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.
  41. ^ Mathrubhumi. Mathrubhumi (25 May 2011). Retrieved on 14 September 2011.

Further read[edit]