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The Victor: Veteran who overcame the odds

He was on the brink of political wilderness a few months ago.

Today, he is the victor, and the most talked about political brand name in Kerala.

No wonder, then, that Veliyakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan, 83, who has been harbouring ambitions to become the chief minister of Kerala for years, is a happy man today.

'The LDF will get more than 100 seats'

His wish is likely be realised on May 13, when the CPI-M Politburo meets to decide on the next Kerala chief minister, after the peasant leader took the Left Democratic Front to a massive victory in the assembly election.

Achuthanandan, whom the Congress leaders deride as the anti-development hero of Kerala, had come close to being chief minister twice in the past.

In 1999, he had taken the LDF to victory; but he lost his seat forcing the party to choose E K Nayanar to be chief minister.

In the 2001 assembly election, he won his seat, but the LDF was defeated.

It has not been smooth sailing for the veteran leader these last few years, even within his party. In the last few months, he fought with the CPI-M leadership to get a seat to fight the polls. His enmity with archrival CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan continues.

Despite heavy odds -- his age and strong resentment by the faction led by Vijayan -- Achuthanandan is the frontrunner for the top post now.

"Ours will be a government for the people. You wait and see how we will transform Kerala," the campaign-weary Achuthanandan told rediff.com last month.

Text: George Iype | Photographs: Rajesh Prasad

Also See: Assembly Polls 2006

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