Thiruvananthapuram, May 20: The CPI-M on Friday decided to name veteran leader Pinarayi Vijayan, son of a toddy tapper, Kerala's new chief minister, sidelining former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
Party sources said Achuthanandan, 92, was apparently not happy with the decision because he had felt he might get a second chance, at least for a while, before handing over charge to Vijayan, 72.
The two leaders are known to be long-time rivals within the otherwise regimented Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which led the LDF to a victory in elections to the 140-member assembly.
The CPI-M opted for Vijayan at a meeting of the party's state secretariat chaired by general secretary Sitaram Yechury and attended by his predecessor Prakash Karat, who is known to be close to Vijayan.
A formal announcement is expected to be made later on Friday. Vijayan will be the 22nd chief minister of Kerala.
Vijayan, who hails from Pinarayi village in Kannur district, got associated with the CPI-M during his student days. His mentor in the CPI-M was the legendary A.K. Gopalan.
At age 24, he was inducted into the Kannur district committee of the CPI-M. From there, he had a steady growth in the party.
Now a five-time legislator, Vijayan made his electoral debut in 1970. He became the Electricity Minister in 1996 in the cabinet of E.K. Nayanar.
It was during this period that he became the unquestioned organizational leader, reigning supreme as the state party secretary from 1998 to 2015.
By the time he gave up the post last year, he had virtually come to control the CPI-M in Kerala although Achuthanandan remained a mass leader and was chief minister from 2006 to 2011.
Within the party, Vijayan even cut to size Achuthanandan because of the support he enjoyed in various party units.
The only blip in his political career came in 1997 when he, as the Electricity Minister, was accused of causing a loss of Rs.266 crore to the state exchequer over a power deal.
But the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) exonerated Vijayan in 2013. The Kerala government approached the high court, where the matter is expected to come up next month.
Married to teacher (now retired) T. Kamala, the couple have a son and a daughter who are both professionals.