Profile: Who is Pinarayi Vijayan, next Kerala CM?

A day after the stupendous victory in Kerala assembly elections, the CPI(M) declared that senior Politburo leader, 72-year-old Pinarayi Vijayan will be next chief minister of the new government. He was chosen over veteren party leader V S Achuthanandan.

Known as a taskmaster and an organisation man to the core, Vijayan won from the Dharmadom constituency and defeated Congress candidate Mambaram Divakaran by a margin of 36,905 votes. [Kerala Assembly Poll Results 2016 Updates]

Pinarayi Vijayan

Let's take a look at his profile:

Date & Place of birth: Born on March 21, 1944 to Mundayil Koran and Kalyani in Pinarayi in Kannur district.

Family history: 

  • Vijayan hailed from a poor toddy tapper's family and belongs to the politically dominant Thiyya community. He is married to Kamala and has two children, Veena & Vivek.
  • He graduated in BA (Economics) from Government Brennen College, Thalassery. He also worked as a handloom weaver after his schooling for a year before being able to continue his higher studies.

Political career:

  • Popularly known as 'Pinarayi', Vijayan joined the Communist Party in 1964, while he was in college and was very active in students' union politics.
  • As a president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Vijayan was imprisoned for one and a half years, when communists in Kerala were organising the political activities from different hide-outs.
  • In 1968, at the age of 24, Vijayan even found a place in the Kannur district committee of the CPI(M).
  • Vijayan is perhaps the only communist leader in recent years to have had a complete control over the party for 16 years till he stepped down from the post of state secretary last year.
  • A man of few words, he proved his organisational capability in the state during this period.

Positions held:

  • 1970, 1977 & 1991: He got elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly from Koothuparamba
  • 1978: Became the CPI(M) district secretary in Kannur
  • 1996: Got elected from Payyannur
  • 1996 to 1998: Served as Minister of Electric Power and Cooperatives, during which period he proved his mettle as an able administrator in the LDF ministry headed by late E K Nayanar.
  • 1998 to 2015: Secretary of the Kerala State Committee of the CPI(M)
  • 2002: He was elected to the politburo of CPI(M)

On May 26, 2007, he, alongwith V S Achuthanandan, was suspended from the politburo for public remarks on each other. Both were reinstated later.

Jailed during emergency

Vijayan, who took part in various agitations, was subjected to torture during the Emergency and during earlier agitations. He once recalled that six policemen continuously beat him on the night of September 28, 1975 till he fainted in the lockup.

After his release, he came to the Assembly and made a powerful speech holding up the blood–stained shirt he wore during the assault on him in the police lock-up. His speech attacking then Home Minister and senior Congress leader late K Karunakaran was considered to be a glorious chapter in the legislative papers.


  • In 1998, Vijayan was embroiled in SNC Lavalin (a Canadian firm) controversy. In 2009, he was named as 9th accused by the CBI. The then Governor allowed CBI to prosecute Vijayan based on prima facie evidence and  the then Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan also said there is nothing surprising or wrong in Governor's decision.
  • On Nov 5, 2013, Vijayan got huge respite as the CBI special court discharged him and other accused in the SNC Lavalin case. Vijayan has always maintained that it was a politically motivated case and there was no wrong doing.
  • On Feb 16, 2007, five bullets were recovered from Vijayan's baggage at Chennai airport. However, he was let off after the security staff received a faxed copy of his license.
  • On  Oct 16, 2007, Pinarayi had called Paul Chitilapally, the bishop of Thamarassery in Kerala, as a "wretched creature".
  • In 2012, the murder of RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan, a former CPI(M) leader, at Onjiyam in Kozhikode dented Vijayan's image, when he was the party state secretary.

How critics describe Vijayan:

His critics describe him as a leader "with no smile on his face, and the most feared politician in Kerala", his party rivals have often accused him of deviating from the party line.

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