Maintaining his grip over the CPI(M), party politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan was re-elected unanimously as its Kerala unit secretary by the state conference.
Leading the party in the state since 1998, the re-election of the 67-year-old leader again demonstrated his hold on CPI(M), which often in the past passed through grim phases of factional trend involving him and former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.
Significantly, Vijayan's name to the key party post was proposed by Achuthanandan himself, who had reportedly faced criticism at the conference for taking positions at variance with the party's official line in the last four years.
Delegates who attended the meet also unanimously elected an 84-member state committee, five-member control commission and delegates for the party congress to be held in Kozhikode in April, Vijayan and other leaders told reporters here after the meet ended today.
An astute politician and skilled organiser, Vijayan came up in politics as a student and youth activist.
Born on March 21, 1944 in the Leftist hotbed Pinarayi in Kannur district, Vijayan has been in the forefront of struggles waged by the party in the last few decades.
A man of few words, he was elected to the state assembly five times and proved a hard-hitting speaker and gifted debator when his services were required by the party within and outside the legislature.
Vijayan had a brief stint as electricity minister in 1996-98 and proved his administrative acumen by pulling the state from one of the worst power crisis.
He resigned from the ministry to take up the party assingment as insisted by one-time mentor Achuthanandan in 1998.
They, however, fell out following sharp differences over some vital issues, triggering a murky phase of groupism in the state unit.
Over the years, Vijayan emerged as the most powerful Communist leader in Kerala by strengthening his grip over the party structure and steering it clear of hierarchical factionalism in the last few years.
Later, addressing a press meet at the conclusion of the delegates' session, Vijayan said pulling down the Oommen Chandy headed UDF ministry through undemocratic means is not on CPI(M)'s agenda in Kerala, but that the party would step up its campaign against the government's wrong policies.
"We are not going to indulge in parliamentary intrigues to topple the ministry. We had made it quite clear after the assembly elections last year and there is no change in that stand," he said.
He termed as "totally absurd" reports in a section of the media that certain portions in the organizational review report presented to the conference had been 'frozen' at the intervention of the politburo on a complaint from senior leader V S Achuthanandan.
"The report has been unanimously adopted by the conference. There could be some changes here and there and minor additions and deletions. But no change has been effected to its general direction or dilution of the spirit of the content," he said.
Asked about reports of Achuthanandan coming under fire at the meet, he said it was quite natural in a democratic party for leaders to face criticism as part of a self-critical exercise. But it would be wrong to describe critical scrutiny as personalised attack against any particular leader, he said.
The conference also underscored the need to strengthen the Left unity and extend the party's support base.