Bowing to public pressure, the Communist Party of India Marxist in Kerala on Friday reversed its decision to drop Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan from the candidates' list for the state assembly, bringing the party's most popular face to the poll arena to lead the Left Democratic Front for the polls on April 13.
The dramatic U-turn came after the central leadership directed the state unit to revoke its decision, factoring in widespread protests from the party rank and file as well as the general public over the issue.
The 87-year-old veteran will be contesting from Malampuzha in Palakkad district, as per the list of candidates announced by the party on Friday afternoon. The state unit, dominated by secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, had sealed the fate of 87-year-old CPI-M stalwart on Wednesday by dropping him from the candidate's list.
The decision pushed the party into a deep crisis with workers taking to the streets to condemn the party's decision to dump Achuthanandan.
Many of the CPI-M's district committees also aired strong feelings against the decision. The developments were taken seriously by the top rung of the members of the politburo, who held two rounds of discussion in New Delhi since Thursday. The powerful politburo sent a clear message to the state secretariat to reverse its decision.
In 2006, Achuthanandan had made a dramatic comeback to the electoral field, thwarting the moves of the rival faction led by Vijayan which had initially managed to keep him off the fray. The move to dump Achuthanandan sparked widespread protests at the time, compelling the central leadership to prevail upon the state unit to bring him back
Achuthanandan is seen as the 'best bet' of the LDF to face the huge challenge posed by the Congress-led United Democratic Front, which had put up a splendid performance in the last Lok Sabha and civic polls.
Despite his advanced years and the machinations of his rivals, a set of developments in the last couple of months have boosted Achuthanandan's image as a crusader against corruption and morality in public life.
Imprisonment of Kerala Congress B leader and former minister R Balakrishna Pillai in a graft case and a renewed interest in the Palmolein import graft case helped Achuthanandan's public image.
Other prominent leaders who figure in the party list included Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (Thalassery), ministers Thomas Isaac(Alappzua), Elamaram Kareem (Beypore),M A Baby (Kunduara), P K Gurudasan (Kollam), S Sarma (Vaypeen), A K Balan (Tharoor), G Sudhakaran (Amalpauuzha) and assembly speaker K Radharishnan (Chelakkara).