Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 20 (): VS aka Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan turned 90 on Sunday. The Kerala Opposition Leader is the only surviving member out of the 32 central committee members who quit the undivided CPI to form the CPM in 1964.
A popular campaigner and strategist, VS has played a decisive role along with late E M S Namboodiripad, A K Gopalan and E K Nayanar in shaping up the CPI(M) as the biggest Communist entity in Kerala after the 1964 split.
VS became the CPI (M) politburo member in 1996 but was removed from the top post for criticizing the party’s official stance on a corruption case involving Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala CPM party boss and ex-Power minister.
VS became CM of the LDF ministry in 2006-11, defeating moves by his rivals within the party to sideline him.
Though VS has lost much clout in the organization, he continues to be the most popular face of the Left in the state, acceptable to even non-CPM parties. On the eve of his birthday, VS was publicly censured by the CPM national body for his comments on State leadership. He has been rooting for Madhav Gadgil report on Western Ghat conservation while his party is for Kasturirangan report. He has been outspoken on his party’s policies and this had landed him on the wrong side of CPM’s top bosses.
After ruling the State as CM, the party hesitated in giving him a chance to seek election which led to public revolt by a section of the cadres. This forced the party to give him the ticket. Fighting a faction-ridden party, he managed to retrieve lost ground and lost power by a whisker of three seats to the Congress-led UDF. His drive against the encroachments by top tea estates and resorts in Munnar won him immense popularity.
Though 90, VS shows no sign of old age. On his birthday, VS told the media that he will continue till death as a political warrior and be a CPM member. As CPM turns 50 next year, VS the only surviving founder member says that if BJP comes close to forming a government, then secular forces should align to keep the communal force out and it could be joining forces with Congress. Thousands turned up to wish VS a warm ‘Lal Salam.’