Thiruvananthapuram: Pinarayi Vijayan has come a long way from his humble background of being the son of a toddy tapper to the hot seat of Kerala politics.
The 72-year-old is seen as the man in sync with party dynamics so much so that CPI-M's top leadership is more than willing to drop one of its top veteran and Vijayan's arc rival former chief minister VS Achuthanandan.
The 92-year-old Marxist veteran's abrupt departure from CPM's office in Thiruvananthapuram told the story. The party on Friday decided to name Vijayan as Kerala's new chief minister. He will now head the LDF government in Kerala.
Vijayan's fortunes became clear after top Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat, who reached here this morning, held a meeting at party headquarters to decide on the next CM.
Vijayan, a grassroots leader, is seen to have scored over star campaigner and ex-CM Achuthananadan mainly because he is 20 years younger at 72.
Unlike Achuthanandan, who is a mass leader and a brand name in Kerala, Vijayan, a polit bureau member, is seen as a man in sync with party dynamics.
Friday's announcement was made by Sitaram Yechury after the state committee ratified the decision.
Achuthanandan, who was the face of LDF campaign, and Vijayan were elected to the assembly from Malampuzha and Pinaryi respectively.
Soon after the decision to nominate Vijayan to the CM's post became known, party workers at AKG Bhavan started celebrations and began distributing sweets.
In the 140-member state Assembly, CPM-led LDF won 91 seats, UDF headed by Congress got 47 while BJP and Independents bagged one each.
Oomen Chandy of the Congress resigned this morning as chief minister.
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.
(With IANS inputs)