It was a long unfulfilled dream come true for 83-year-old V.S. Achuthanandan, sworn in as the 20th chief minister of Kerala last week. But the crown lies uneasy on his head. He’ll be the first Kerala CM in more than two decades not to hold the crucial home portfolio. In popular perception, this means that Achuthanandan doesn’t enjoy the full confidence of the dominant faction in the
CPI(M), led by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. In all likelihood, Vijayan’s lieutenant Kodiyeri Balakrishnan will get the ministry. Kodiyeri, an icon of the militant face of the party in the red bastion of Kannur, had recently proclaimed: "If necessary, we’ll make bombs inside police stations." Such is the kind of contradiction that the state’s new
CEO will have to manage.
Achuthanandan will also have to devote much of his energies to managing factional conflicts. There are other pressures too, like supporters of jailed cleric Abdul Nasser Madani of the People’s Democratic Party, who is facing trial in the ’98 Coimbatore bomb blasts case. The
PDP and newly formed ultra outfit,...