Waiting in the wings to replace veteran VS

CM in the making: Our party never projects a particular leader during polls, says Kodiyeri

Waiting in the wings to replace veteran VS

The mantle would have fallen on Home Minister and CPM Politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and not on party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan whose image had taken a beating with the CBI chargesheeting him in the SNC Lavalin corruption case.

In fact, the CPM state leadership had decided that Balakrishnan would lead the front when the chief minister was reportedly “forced to withdraw’’ from the contest.

No wonder that for Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, 57, getting re-elected is not just about retaining his place in the legislature. He knows that it is a ticket to bigger things especially after he was surprisingly nominated by the 19th party congress in Coimbatore to the Politburo. Though there were other contenders to be elevated to the vacant Politburo seat which had arisen with E K Nayanar’s demise, the lot fell on Balakrishnan. This has given an impression that he is next in line to take up the responsibilities of both Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan.

Known as a leader owing allegiance to Pinarayi, Balakrishnan had survived a scare in Thalassery in 2006 when firebrand Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan took the battle right into his bastion. This time, he is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his victory against Congress’ Rigil Makkutty. “Political work is no cakewalk. You need to slog it out in the constituency at least during the elections,’’ he told Deccan Herald during a tiring hop stop trip attending family gatherings.

Kodiyeri doesn’t buy the theory that nothing much had happened to change the people’s mindset since October last year when his party and front got a severe drubbing in the panchayat elections. “Much has happened in the last five months, like the rise in prices of essential commodities, the exposure of 2G Spectrum scam and several cases against United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders. And former minister R Balakrishna Pillai was jailed. Hence, an impression has gained ground that the Kerala government acts tough against the corrupt,’’ he says.

According to him, the people are wary of corruption, extravagance and squandering of public money whenever the UDF comes to power. So, they will not vote for the front.  Responding to a question on Achuthanandan’s rising popularity, he said it was an honour for the LDF government that its chief minister was attracting huge crowds at his meetings. “The UDF claims it is the CPM which is organising these people.

Then why are the crowds not coming to see Sonia Gandhi and A K Antony,’’ he asked.  Kodiyeri parried questions on his emerging prominence in the party saying that the organisation apportioned different duties to its leaders. “Our party never projects a particular leader during elections. Leaders at several levels are given different responsibilities which they accept,’’ he said.

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