93 versus 29, Achuthanandan gears up for face off with Joy
The 93-year-old CPI(M) warhorse and former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is all set for another round of electoral battle to retain his seat at Malampuzha, where he is pitted against Congress's 29-year old V S Joy for the May 16 Assembly polls.
Known for his inimitable gestures, razor-sharp words and unique style of dialogue delivery, Achuthanandan, an astute campaigner, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his victory at the segment, which has favoured Communists since its inception in 1965, for the fourth consecutive time.
Braving the scorching summer, Achuthanandan, popularly known as 'VS', has already addressed a series of meetings in the constituency in Palakkad district, considered the state's industrial corridor.
Throughout his campaign, he has attacked the Congress led UDF, taking on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy by raking up the corruption issues related to solar, bar bribery scams and the 'communal and divisive' politics of BJP-NDA.
The fight has turned out to be a fierce one for all, as both Congress led UDF and BJP-NDA are trying hard to inflict maximum damage to Achuthanandan's poll prospects.
The presence of BJP's C Krishnakumar, vice-chairman of Palakkad Municipal Corporation, the only civic body the party controls in the state, has virtually made prediction of poll outcome a difficult task, political observers feel.
Besides, Bharat Dharam Jana Sena,the new partner of BJP, formed by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam General secretary Vellapally Natesan, is also very active in the segment.
Natesan is itching to get even with Achuthanandan as it was he who had taken up alleged irregularities in the microfinance scheme run by SNDP and had also attacked Natesan for his alliance with the saffron party in the state.
The state government had initiated a Vigilance probe into the charges against Natesan, based on the complaint of VS.
Achuthanandan's victory margin has steadily increased since 2001 when he contested in the constituency for the first time. He won by a margin of 4,703 in 2001, in 2006 by a margin of 20,000 and in 2011 by 23,440 votes.
India's seniormost Communist leader, Achuthanandan is the only surviving comrade among those who walked out of undivided CPI to form CPI(M) after the ideological schism shook the Indian Left movement in the early 1960s.
After being essentially an organisation builder for much of his career holding key posts like the state secretary, what metamorphosed Achuthanandan into a mass leader was his stint as opposition leader during 2001-06.