The CPM state committee on Sunday ratified the party leadership decision to field both V S Achuthanandan and Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in the coming state polls.
While Achuthanandan, 92, will be contesting for the fifth consecutive time since 1996, bitter rival Vijayan, 71, makes a return to electoral politics after 20 years.
Achuthanandan will contest from Malampuzha in Palakkad district whereas Vijayan, 71, would seek the mandate from Dharmadam in Kannur. Achuthanandan’s mass support base again stood him in good stead in the CPM, and the leader of the Opposition is expected to lead the Left campaign from the front.
Sources said while the 92-year-old had sought reassurance about his role should the LDF win, fearful that the party would opt for Vijayan over him, the central leadership had made it clear that a decision would be taken only after the elections.
The outspoken Achuthanandan has been chargesheeted by the party several times for gross indiscipline and, after walking out of the party state conference in early 2015, had been languishing alone till a few months ago. However, with the BJP aiming for the Ezhava votes, Achuthanandan, who belongs to the backward Hindu community, sprang back into relevance. The Ezhavas have traditionally voted for the CPM.
Achuthanandan has been consistently targeting Ezhava leader Vellappally Natesan, who wanted to take his outfit, the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, to the BJP camp. He has openly accused Natesan of corruption, unlike the reticence shown by other CPM leaders in attacking him.
The most popular political face in Kerala, Achuthanandan underlined his importance to the CPM when the LDF staged a comeback in the local body polls.