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Untiffining Pinarayi Vijayan: The CM Who Created History

Pinarayi’s term was also marred by several corruption charges, especially those which reached even his office.

Updated
Kerala
3 min read

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Producer & Cameraperson: Smitha TK
Graphics: Aroop Mishra

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A ruling front winning a successive term is unheard of in the electoral history of Kerala for the past 44 years. This time, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan created history by breaking the pattern and bagging a consecutive term for the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The Quint ‘untiffins’ the Communist leader, his party ideology and political ambitions.

Apart from being a Communist, Pinarayi Vijayan has another identity: Ezhava by caste. Ezhavas do not fall within the classic varna system and according to the constitution, they belong to the OBC category. It is important to note that Ezhavas constitute about 23% of the state population, which means they matter and this benefits Pinarayi.

Caste based discrimination is a common reality in Kerala, and Pinarayi has himself faced several casteist slurs, even after he became the Chief Minister of Kerala. But, the bold leader that he is, he proudly calls himself ‘toddy tapper’s son’.

Pinarayi is known to have introduced Stalinist methods in the organisational structure of the CPI(M). He is also known as a leader who ruled the party with an iron first from student politics to state politics.

But, ever since he became the Chief Minister of Kerala in 2016, Pinarayi has become more of an administrator who allows his ministers, like Health Minister KK Shailaja who is known to have curbed the spread of Nipah virus in Kerala, to grow.

The Good and The Ugly

Ever since he took over as the leader of the state, Kerala has faced several disasters such as the Okhi cyclone, Nipah virus outbreak, coronavirus pandemic and floods. But Pinarayi’s customary 6pm press conferences where he addresses the public with, “Ellarum kude irangalle?” (Aren’t we all in this together?), has been a massive hit and the popular perception is that his government can handle crises well.

Even on the counting day, he didn’t miss the customary 6pm press conference on the rising coronavirus cases and steps taken by the government to curb the spread of the virus.

Pinarayi’s term was also marred by several corruption charges, especially those which reached even his office.

In July 2020, a diplomatic consignment with 30kg of concealed gold, reached Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram from UAE. The main accused Swapna Suresh is believed to have links with a principal secretary in Pinarayi Vijayan’s CM office. While National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and Customs are now probing the case, the CPI(M) and the CM have accused BJP of political vendetta.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying hard to be the third front in the state but has failed to make any inroads this time.

The Congress won five out of the 12 seats allotted to it but the defeat of the Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K. Mani has dampened their spirits.

Most pre-poll surveys too have predicted that the CPI(M)-led LDF would defy anti-incumbency sentiment to win the election in the state.

The LDF rule in Kerala has never seen such a personality cult built around a chief minister and seems like Pinarayi’s flavourful sadhya (feast) turned out to be a hit with the people of Kerala.

(This article was originally published on 3 April 2021 and has been reposted from The Quint archives.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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