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Kerala CPM's smiling face no more; former home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan dies at 68

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala CPM's smiling face is no more. Senior CPM leader and Politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan passed away on Saturday at Chennai Apollo hospital. He was 68. A five-time MLA, he has also served as the State Home Minister from 2006 to 2011. A three-time CPM state secretary, he served as state secretary till the last week of August this year. Kodiyeri was undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital Chennai for the past one month.

 Born on November 16, 1953, he completed his studies at Kodiyeri Oniyan High School, Mahatma Gandhi College Mahe and University College Thiruvananthapuram. At the age of 17, he joined politics as a CPM member. An active leader of Kerala Students' Federation, he served as SFI state secretary and later as its All India joint secretary between 1973 and 1979.

Kodiyeri had a meteoric rise in the party since his term as the students’ federation secretary. The Emergency period was a crucial episode in his political life when he underwent 16 months of imprisonment under MISA during 1975-1977. He was elected as the Kannur district president of DYFI in 1980. The same year, he married the daughter of then Thalassery MLA MV Rajagopalan. Later he got elected to the CPM district committee and became the district secretary.

A five-time MLA, he got elected to the Assembly from the Thalassery constituency in 1982, 1987, 2001, 2006 and 2011. He served as Minister for Home and Tourism in the VS Achuthanandan government from 2006 to 2011. Later in 2011, when the Oommen Chandy government came to power, he was the deputy Opposition Leader under VS. Kodiyeri had also served as the sate secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha and a member of the AIKS Council.

In 2003, Kodiyeri made it to the CPM central committee. In 2008, while serving as the State home minister he got elected to the party Politburo at the 19th Party Congress held at Coimbatore. He was elected to the CPM's highest decision-making body along with Mohammad Amin and Nirupam Sen.

In an interesting political development, CPM veteran and the then Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan was dropped from the Politburo in 2009, making it a curious proposition for the CPM leadership in the state. At a time when the CPM was struggling to deal with factional feuds between the VS and Pinarayi groups, Kodiyeri remained the one leader acceptable to both factions.

With Pinarayi Vijayan completing his term as party state secretary in 2015, Kodiyeri was unanimously elected as the CPM state secretary at the Alappuzha conference. Later he got re-elected at the two successive state conferences in 2018 and 2022.

In 2016, when the Pinarayi-led Left government came to power, Kodiyeri was successful in coordinating party affairs with the Chief Minister smoothly ensuring that the party and the government were on the same page on various issues. The Pinarayi-Kodiyeri axis in the party was effective to such an extent that critics felt that the party leadership had surrendered wholly to the whims of the Chief Minister.

A couple of controversies surrounding his two children Bineesh Kodiyeri and Binoy Kodiyeri did however cast a shadow for long on his political life. It was in this backdrop during his second term as party secretary, that he took a break and went on leave for a year for medical treatment. Allegations naturally rose that he chose to keep away from party activities in view of the allegations against his children. In December 2021, he came back to occupy the slot. At the Ernakulam conference in 2022, Kodiyeri was once again unanimously chosen to lead the party for the third time. (AIR NEWS)

58 Days ago