Achuthanandan to head LDF Opposition in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan was on Wednesday unanimously elected as leader of the CPI(M) in the Assembly and to head the 68-member LDF Opposition in the 140-member House.

Former Home Minister and CPIM) Politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was elected deputy leader at the meeting of newly elected CPI(M) MLAs held at the party's state headquarters AKG Centre here, party sources said.

That the 87-year-old veteran would lead LDF was a foregone conclusion as the party's central and state leadership favoured him right from the start, considering his pivotal role in leading LDF in the Assembly polls in Kerala.

Former ministers A K Balan and M A Baby were elected as the party's Assembly wing secretary and whip respectively.

Though the LDF lost power to the Congress-led UDF narrowly in the polls, Achuthanandan had been credited with denying the rival a comfortable win.

The spirited campaign mounted by the veteran leader had greatly helped LDF regain much of its support after it suffered humiliating defeats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the multi-tier civic elections last year.

As a result, UDF could bag only 72 seats, just two above the half-way mark, the most slender margin scored by the coalition in four decades.

Achuthanandan scored a hat-trick victory from the party bastion Malampuzha, defeating Lathika Subhash of the Congress by a huge margin.

He had led the LDF in Opposition from 2001-06, a politically turbulent phase under the UDF rule.

Despite the factional trends in the party and attempts by rivals to keep him off the fray, he had led the LDF to victory in the 2006 Assembly polls.

Before moving to Malampuzha in 2001, Achuthanandan was elected to the Assembly twice from Ambalappuzha and once from Mararikkulam in his home district Alappuzha. He was defeated from Mararikkulam in 1996.