Pinarayi Vijayan; Fire-born, won’t feel sun-burn
Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan, with Wife Kamala and kids
Born as the youngest son of Maroli Koran and Kalyani, in a family of peasants,at the center stage of the mass uprising against feudalism and colonialism in North Malabar in the fortiesgive Vijayan an opportunity to experience the flames of struggle in the midst of intense poverty.Parappuram, the place where the Kerala unit of the CommunistParty was secretly born in 1939 is in the same village two kilometers away.Pinarayialso has the largest number of co-operativesocieties inan Indian village, a prominent position in Kannur, the Rochdale of the east and the cradle of the Co-operative movement in the state.
He completed his schooling from Pinarayi Saradavilasam Lower Primary School and Peralassery Government High School.Surfacing the realities of livelihood in a lower middle-class family right from his childhood,he used to supply goat milk on his way to schooland after schooling he worked as a handloom weaver for ten months to raise funds for college.In 1962, he joined the Government Brennen College,Thalasseriwhich opened up the opportunity for his active association with the Kerala Students Federation (KSF), the forerunner of the present Students Federation of India.It was his first protest against ferry fare hike that initiated Mr Vijayan into active politics. In 1964, when he joined for his Bachelor of arts in Economics, he was the Kannur district secretary of the KSF. He also soon became the president of the state unit of KSF. Being at the helm of affairs in building up the progressive student movement in adversity- the dominance of the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the overall anti-communist atmosphere created during the liberation struggle prevailing, the private school and college managers andthe media in the state actively promoting KSU,offered a unique training ground for him to build himself up as an organiser.
At this juncture when students and the youth were militantly agitating on the food problem in the state, he rose to the leadership of the radical youth movement in the state. This was the time when the youth in the state, were shredding the retrograde tendencies of reformism on the one hand while fighting against extremist tendencies, following the Naxalbari peasants revolt in West Bengal.Vijayan rose to the leadership of the CPI-M in Kannur as the area secretary in Thalasseri when RSS had unleashed one of their most systematic master plans for communal violence in the country attacking 63 mosques, 147 shops and looted 247 houses of Muslims. When the RSS orchestrated the communal revolt in Thalasseri in 1972 by spreading rumours about Muslim attacks on temples and Hindu women Pinarayi and M.V. Raghavan had been given charge by CPI-M of protecting mosques targeted by the RSS at Thalasseri, Pinarayi Vijayan and his comrades travelled fearlessly in the riot-hit regions with microphones and requested people to maintain harmony and not to fall into the RSS propaganda. They stood guard at mosques which the RSS had targeted for destruction, and one of them, U. K. Kunjiraman, lost his life in that defence., The reference made by the Justice Joseph Vithayathil Commission on the role of CPI-M in the context of the Thalasseri revolt is the best testimonya party and its popular leader could get in the struggle to safeguard a region and the innocent people there against the politics of hate and violence.
in 1970, at the age of 26, Pinarayi Vijayan won his first electoral battle in Koothuparamba, a seat that had hitherto never been won by the Communist party either before the split or by the CPI(M) after it till that election. He did so at a time when Congress, had successfully forged an anti-communist front in the state. In 1975, as part of the now infamous repression imposed in Kerala during the emergency, Pinarayi Vijayan was targeted for assassination, by the Home Ministry headed by K. Karunakaran. Reports state that Pinarayi was arrested, taken to a jail cell where he was stripped and beaten until the skin of his back peeled off and lay in a state of unconsciousness in a pool of his own blood until the Chief Minister C. Achutha Menon, having been gheraoed by his former comrades’ EMS and AKG, rescinded his Home Ministry’s order. Reports also indicate that Panarayi’s first action on being able to walk upright was to travel to the legislative assembly, wave his blood-soaked shirt at the Home Minister on the floor of the House and deliver a legendary speech on the savagery he had to face.His heroism and courage left a deep imprint on the masses and in 1977,when Kerala infamously voted back congress and several stalwarts on the left lost the election, Pinarayi quadrupled his majority.
A unique style of intervening in all walks of life of the people while fighting for popular rights is the landmark of the communist movement in Kannur, which is amply reflected in his interventions as a leader of the co-operative movement.He was instrumental in converting the Vividodesha Aikya Nanaya Sanghom at Pinarayi as a primary co-operative society and later as the Pinarayi Service Co-operative Bank which now boasts of a core banking system, mobile banking and digital money transfer.The Pinarayi Industrial Co-operative Society has an impressive story of a worker’s take-over of Samuel Aron’s tile factory which was shut down, converted into a Pre-Stressed Cement Concrete pole manufacturing unit, supplying distribution posts to the Kerala State Electricity Board, and also manufacturing, inter lock bricks, roof-tiles, furniture etc. Pinarayi Weavers Industrial Co-operative Society having a turnover of more than a crore has been also revamped with power looms and manufactures furnishing, shirting, bed sheets, carpets, rugs for hotels and corporates. He was also the guiding spirit behind the formation of Rubco and was the president of the Kannur District Co-operative Bank from 1983 to 1992.

He was elected as Kannur District Secretary in 1986 immediately after M.V. Raghavan’s defection to the congress led front. He took over as State Secretary   of the Communist Party after the demise of Chadayan Govindan and remained in that position till 2015.He had been a member of the Politburo of CPi(M) from 2002 onwards. Kerala was ahead of West Bengal unit in party membership, when Vijayan took over as secretary of the state unit. During the period 2000-2015 CPI(M) membership grew from 2,93,143 to 4,18,756.The growth of the party’s institutional mechanisms was more impressive than that of its membership. The party today has under its control a television company with four channels, a chain newspaper with seven editions, a publishing house, 13 research institutions and a number of commercial establishments in various fields including healthcare and tourism.
When the LDF came to power in May 1996, the power situation in Kerala had reached crisis proportions. The State was going through three-and-a-half hours of load shedding for domestic consumers and 95 per cent power cut for industries and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) was facing a major financial crisis. In such a scenario, the LDF government took measures to complete the ongoing projects on war footing also initiated a few new projects. As a result, when the term of the LDF government ended in May 2001, the installed capacity of power generation in the State had increased by 1083.6 MW as against the previous UDF government’s achievement of a 14 MW. Even the political opponents were in praise of Pinarayi Vijayan’s systematic efforts as the Power and Co-operation Minister which eventually led to load shedding and power cut totally withdrawn by the end of LDF government term, Kerala could claim to be self-sufficient in power in 2001.
The expectations aroused by Pinarayi Vijayan on 25 March 2016, was similar to the expectations roused by the first EMS Nambooripad ministry in the state, because he was coming to office with a strong man image build by leading the Communist Party of India(Marxist) for a record tem of 17 years with a firm hand and also, he was known for his administrative acumen and experience as a well-grounded politician who understood the needs of the people. Last but not the least he had also left a clear message during the Nava Kerala March that Kerala requires systematic strengthening of infrastructure to world class standards while focussing on retaining the achievements in the social sector and protecting the interests of the downtrodden and the marginalised.
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