Five Questions with V.S. Achuthanandan with an Introduction by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik

V.S.ACHUTHANANDAN by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik

(scroll down for the video)

UnknownIt is difficult these days, after the end of the classical period of Communism, to find a Communist leader who enjoys such mass popularity as V.S.Achuthanandan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He may not be well-known outside his state, Kerala, but within the state, which has a population of over 33 million, he is by far the most popular political leader. In fact it is difficult to think of any living Communist leader, other than Fidel Castro of course, who enjoys such massive popularity, cutting across party lines.

Born into an Ezhava family  in the Alapuzha district of Kerala in 1923, Achuthanandan, who lost his mother at the age of four and his father at the age of eleven, had to give up his studies and work as a tailor’s apprentice. Later he joined a coir factory as a worker and participated in trade union activities, through which he came to Communism and became a member of the Party in 1940, shortly after its formation in Kerala in 1939. When the undivided Communist Party split in 1964, Achuthanandan who had spent almost a decade of his life in jail or underground, became one of the founding members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He spent twelve years as the Secretary of the Kerala State CPI(M) and almost a decade as the Leader of the Opposition in Kerala State Legislative Assembly, before leading the Left Democratic Front, of which the CPI(M) was the principal constituent, to a massive victory in the 2006 elections, to become the Chief Minister of the state for the next five years. The LDF narrowly lost the 2011 elections, which was itself a creditable feat in view of Kerala’s history of always rejecting incumbent governments, and Achuthanadan became once more the Leader of the Opposition, a post he holds to date.

There is something intriguing about Achuthanandan’s popularity. Despite having little formal education he commands enormous respect among the intelligentsia of this highly literate and intellectually-sophisticated state. Despite being 89 years old, he has remarkable appeal among the youth. And despite being an old Communist from the Comintern days, he enjoys substantial support among “civil society” activists. He is truly the last of the great communist leaders produced in Kerala which has been a bastion of the Communist movement in India.

Communism in Kerala, which has been a legatee of the egalitarian upsurge of the twentieth century that found expression in the Temple Entry movement, and above all in the social reform movement of Shree Narayana Guru, has been a major contributor to the remarkable transformation that the state has witnessed: from being a strongly feudal society, with such horrendous practices as “untouchability” and even “unseeability” at the beginning of the twentieth century, to being what it is today, a progressive society with egalitarian values, and with the most impressive Human Development indicators anywhere in the third world. The basis for V.S.Achuthanandan’s popularity lies essentially in the fact that, with his simple life-style, his integrity, and his abiding commitment to these egalitarian values, he embodies this great tradition of Kerala.

Five Questions with V.S. Achuthanandan

V.S. Achuthanandan is one of the world’s greatest political leaders and arguably the most popular political figures in India today. V.S. Achuthanandan’s vision for society has had a tremendous impact on the growth and success of what has been celebrated as “The Kerala Model.” His commitments to communal harmony and fundamental human equality have helped Kerala achieve socio-economic progress that remains largley unmatched by any other state in India and few other nations in the world. He locates his ideological commitment in the major social revolution launched by Narayana Guru at the turn of the 20th century that up-ended the disorder of caste and set a new frame for social engagement that ultimately provided political space for egalitarian frames that led to the successes of the Communist Party in Kerala. It was this egalitarian space for political discourse, championed by Narayana Guru, that allowed Achuthanandan to enter into politics through trade unions activities, where he demonstrated his characteristic qalities of dedication to the greater good, integrity and political acumen. Despite his great success and his long career, what is remarkable of V.S. Achuthanandan is his shrewd understanding of the current moment. This ever-youthful capacity for perception makes him one of the most popular leaders amongst young Keralites.

Five Questions with V.S. Achuthanandan from Baraza Video on Vimeo.


The above piece was written for Baraza by the preeminent Economist, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik

As a former Kerala State Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Prof. Patnaik has worked closely with V.S. Achuthanandan to bring important reforms to Kerala’s Labor Laws. He has fought to increase the minimum wage and to expand on the right’s and benefits afforded to daily wage workers. Under Achuthanandan and with Prof. Patnaik’s guidance, the Kerala Communist Party has achieved unparalled popular support for its progressive initiatives.

Deep gratitude to V.S. Achuthanandan and Prof. Patnaik for their time and insights.

19 thoughts on “Five Questions with V.S. Achuthanandan with an Introduction by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik

  1. VS was a total failure as CM of Kerala. He sat idle for 4 and half years and in the last 6 months instigated some controversial topics and and almost managed to wrest back the chance to govern. But luckily for Malayalees he narrowly missed the magic number.
    He is a shrewd politician often self interest is more than his interest for his party, his close followers and the state. The language he often uses is derogatory. Equating him to great leaders like Fidel Castri will be doing injustice to Fidel .

  2. Good report. V S Achuthanandan contributed to the kerala Society very much .He became more popular after taking a firm stand for the women’s issue ,environment issue , displacement of people etc. against the communist party and without the support of the CPI (M) for which he was thrown out from the Polite Buerau, the highest body of CPI(M) .Presently, the Kerala State complained against Achuthanandan and demanded him from the post of Opposition leader.

  3. What the Blog has identified, is true, VS is a legend, probably a last specious in Communism-Marxism.

  4. Had it not been for the back-stabers in his own party, one feels that surely VS would have been triumphant in the last election too and become CM of the state for second term in succession. Alas, the corrupt capitalists who have infiltrated into the communist movement these days did not like the prospect of him continuing as the CM. They had tried to scuttle even his becoming the CM for the first time. Nothing explains the decline of communism (read growth of communal elements) and the growing popularity of the VS at the same time in the state.

  5. Being a Keralite, it is a fact that, he is unparalleled in Kerala Politics by virtue of his personal integrity and ability to coup with the modern time and requirements. He lead many movements to prevent encroachments in sensitive forest areas and fought against mafias stands in favour of exploiting natural resources illegally. He is a popular icon for the youths of Kerala as the youths hate other corrupted Hippocratic politicians in the state. I wish him all the success and let him guide us for many years.

  6. Great port. The factors in that blog are 100% true. VS is a real hero in Kerala. It is surprising that Columbia University did such study. Cheers!

  7. this video with Com Achyuthaanandan is very timely and needs wide publicity through out India. Pl do it in different languages

  8. Thanks a lot to the Great Columbia University and respected Prof. Prabhat Patnaik to spend your valuable time to comment on the Great Leader from Kerala, Shri. V.S. Achuthanandan (Sakhav V.S.).

    There is no doubt at all he is one of the top most political leaders from Kerala/India and even in the World.

    Despite having little education, he is having lots of skill sets, like real confidence, outstanding leadership quality, massive popularity, fantastic natural communicator, standing against corruption and social evil etc. etc.. lot to say…

    i just saw this video, see how he is confident and throwing words at the age of 90. very active even at the age of 90, doing things just like a boy,

    I would say he is one of best 10 natural leaders that world has ever seen.

    Of course he is having strong enemies in his own party and outside too, that all are quite natural, in politics it’s happening any where. But Leader is Leader, Majority of people from all over the world will recognize and respect such wonderful leaders.

    “Definitely his political contribution and his standings against Political corruption and social evil” could be a very good thesis for MBA/Political students all over the world.

    Thanks & Regards,


  9. It is difficult to think of any living Communist leader, other than Fidel Castro of course, who enjoys such massive popularity, cutting across party lines.

  10. Thanks a lot to Columbia University and respected Prof. Patnaik to notify Shri V.S. Achuthanandan from Kerala/India as a great leader.

    There is no doubt he is one of the true natural leaders that world has ever seen. A real most outstanding leader with lots of skill sets even at the age of 90, with massive popularity from all over the world.

    His contributions to politics and his vital standing against political corruptions & social evils could be an excellent PhD thesis to MBA/Political students.

  11. VS is the tongue of common man.I wonder why some people are deadly opposing him though they are not having any support of public.He seems to be isolated even by cutting off this beloved personal assistants who were with him for years.But V S is the right….. Brave Lion …….Lal salam saghave.

  12. Sadharanakaranu vendi Sadharanakarente bhashayil samsarikkunna Sakhavu VS nu Abhivadyangal. Lal salam Sakhave Lal Salam !!!!!!!!!

  13. Thanks a lot Colombian university… Ur work is execelent… I proudly says I’m a member of communist party of India Marxist… As a chief minister VS is done it many of work to very poor back ground people….

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