Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan's uninterrupted reign at the top continues, with him being re-elected on Friday as secretary of the party's Kerala unit for the fourth successive time. The election was a mere formality at the last day of the 20th edition of the CPI-M state party conference.
It was in 1998, when as minister of power in the E.K. Nayanar government, Vijayan first took over as the state secretary of the party. He hails from Kannur district, considered the cradle of the Communist movement, and began his eventful political career through student union activities before joining the Communist party in 1964. His legislative career began with a victory in the 1970 assembly polls and he got re-elected thrice in 1977, 1991 and 1996.
In 2002, he was elected to the politburo of his party, but on account of the open feud with his arch-rival and former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, both were suspended from the politburo in 2007 but later re-inducted. In 2009 Achuthanandan was demoted to the central committee as the two continued to spar.
But Vijayan later suffered a huge setback when he became the first politburo member of his party to be indicted in a corruption case. He was given bail.
He has been named as the seventh accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Rs.374 crore SNC Lavalin case, when Vijayan as the state power minister had inked the final agreement in 1997 for renovating three power plants in the state. According to the accountant general, it was a failed project and caused a loss to the state exchequer.
But with his party strongly supporting him, he continues to be in full command and over the years is seen to have virtually decimated the Achuthanandan faction. Vijayan's problems with a section of the church leadership have always evinced keen media interest.