The one communist leader whom I have known from very close quarters is EMS Namboodiripad. Hence I could find some similarities between him and Pinarayi Vijayan, as both could brave any challenge. True, a comparison would be unfair as the struggles and challenges faced by the latter are much more severe than that of the former. The physical torture Pinarayi had to endure during the the dark days of Emergency and the censure following the Lavalin case make him different from EMS. Though the physical torture has ended with the Emergency, the allegations are yet to settle down. The way he faced the ordeal shows that he has extraordinary courage.
One of the major charges against Pinarayi is that he does not sport a smile. You may approach him with a case and will be disappointed for that special consideration you are expecting. But it is certain that you will get a reply from him and it will be a favourable one if the case is genuine. There will be a follow-up as he is a man of action.
Our contact developed as Vijayettan moved to Thiruvananthapuram after assuming the post of the party secretary in 1998 and there are some personal moments which I cannot forget. I remember he coming to visit Amma, before taking charge as the party secretary. He told her that he is going to resign the ministerial post as the party wants him to be its secretary and she replied that the party was always right. Though EMS is no more, he still has that emotional connection with him.
When Amma was sinking I had a wish and called Aniyettan (E M Sreedharan). “What is in your mind?” he asked. “Amma’s mortal remains should be placed at AKG Centre for some time,” I said. It was nearly impossible to place such a demand on behalf of an outsider because even while following a Communist life of a higher degree, she was not a party member. But when Vijayettan learned about it, he readily agreed and gifted us an unforgettable moment.
A few years ago, my husband (C K Gupthan) was admitted for heart surgery. Vijayettan visited him before the surgery. What surprised many, including our close relatives, was the second visit after the surgery. For anyone, but Pinarayi, this would have been normal. Despite the hard shell outside, he always had that care towards others, inside him. He may be strict and question the anti-people attitude of many bureaucrats. This may sound harsh but his tone is never a threatening one. Even though his term in a government lasted nearly 30 months only, everyone is aware that he had left a mark following the performance, follow-up and auditing of his portfolio.
Those who know him closely may find some of his reactions to theallegations are milder than they expect. But This is the result of the maturity he gained by the deep understanding of the organisation and its ethos. Yes, millions like me who voted LDF are optimistic of a government under Pinarayi Vijayan.
He won’t be just another Chief Minister who sits and watches. He will gauge the performance of the members of the cabinet. The signs of a change are evident from the beginning. The leader was selected in 24 hours after the results and the manner in which the team was selected is also a clear indicator in this direction. Hence we expect everything will be alright when Pinarayi comes.
--As told to Chandrakanth Viswanath