Pinarayi Vijayan to become Kerala chief minister today: Here's how he got there

It has been a long wait for Kerala's chief minister in-waiting Pinarayi Vijayan. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) winning 91 of the 140-member Kerala Assembly seats was not enough, Vijayan had to race ahead of his arch rival and CPM veteran VS Achuthanandan for the top post in Kerala politics. On Wednesday, Vijayan will be sworn-in as the chief minister of Kerala, along with his team of 18 cabinet ministers.

Elaborate arrangements has been made for the ceremony, though it might not match up to the style and grandeur of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's swearing-in ceremony. Around 35,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is being held at Central stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. Security has been beefed in the city, reported The Deccan Chronicle. Whether its red gerberas or roses, the red colour will dominate the occasion, marking the return of the Left government in Kerala. The CPM General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury and politburo member, Prakash Karat, will attend the swearing-in ceremony. According to Manorama Online, Malayalam superstar Mammootty is expected to attend the ceremony.

Pinarayi Vijayan

File photo of Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

The 72-year-old leader, who was the CPM state secretary till last year, is known for his organisational skills. He had a short stint as the state's power minister during 1996-1998. His political career, however, took a backseat when he was accused of giving contract to a Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for modernisation of three hydel projects. The Lavlin scam still remains the biggest corruption scandal ever against CPM in Kerala. The CBI court later dismissed the charges against Vijayan, but politically it took him time to recover from it.

Vijayan is often described as a leader "with no smile on his face, and the most feared politician in Kerala"; his party rivals have often accused him of deviating from the party line. In fact, in the run up to the assembly election, Vijayan tried to soften his austere image and sported a smile whenever he appeared on television and interacted with people. He even engaged with the electorate through social media forums.

While VS Achuthanandan is considered to be a mass leader, Vijayan has the support of the party cadres.  Despite Vijayan's hold over the party, for a long time it was firebrand leader Achuthanandan who remained the face of the CPM in Kerala. Vijayan was suspended from the politburo in 2007 along with Achuthanandan after the two openly criticised each other through the media. Later they were reinstated in the politburo. However, Achuthanandan was again dropped from the highest party body for breaching party discipline.

Achuthanandan is close to Yechury and his “Bengal lobby” in the CPM, while Vijayan has been an open supporter of Karat. A day after the election results were announced, Yechury announced that the party favoured Vijayan as the chief minister of Kerala. Though Achuthanandan fostered hope of taking the post of the chief minister once again, Yechury rejected the idea amid pressure from the Karat group.

It's truce now for the two leaders. Achuthanandan had stated that he will continue to be the sentinel to guard the interests of the public in Kerala. A businessmen with close links to the LDF told Firstpost that “if Vijayan is the CM, VS won’t let him do his work, and if VS is the CM Vijayan won’t let him do his work.”

The Vijayan cabinet will have 19 members (including the chief minister) and the CPM will have 12 berths, the CPI four and three other LDF constituents - the JD(S), the NCP and the Congress (S) would get one each.

The CPM named have its ministers, including three — Thomas Issac, AK Balan and G Sudhakaran — who were ministers in the VS Achuthanandan cabinet (2006-11), while new faces are EP Jayarajan, KK Shailaja, AC Moideen, Kadakampally Surendran, TP Ramakrishnan, C Raveendranath, J Mercykutty Amma and KT Jaleel (who won as a CPM-backed Independent).

"This will be a people's government and will function for the welfare of the people. There will be no caste, religious and political barriers and we will function with that spirit," Vijayan said while addressing his first press meet after being elevated as chief minister-designate of the new government.

"Everyone has the right in this government and society should understand that if people turn their back, democratic process will not be complete.  It is the people's cooperation that strengthens democracy," he said, asserting that government will function for justice, brotherhood, prosperity and growth.

On the new government's stand on corruption, Vijayan said, "There is corruption at various levels. It has come to my notice that some people are going round saying they are 'CM's men'. Perhaps they do not know my way of functioning. Such type of people should be kept at bay and we need to be careful."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 25, 2016 12:52:31 IST

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