Veteran Communist leader and former chief minister of Kerala, V S Achuthanandan, turned 98 on Wednesday.
Popularly known as 'comrade VS', Achuthanandan, who has not been keeping well due to age-related ailments for quite some time, celebrated the day along with members of his family at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram.
Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury and senior Congress leaders Ramesh Chennithala and Jairam Ramesh were among those who extended birthday wishes to Achuthanandan, who is the founder-leader of the CPI-M after the split in the undivided Communist Party of India in 1964.
"My heartiest greetings and best wishes to former chief minister Shri VS Achuthanandan on his 98th birthday. I join the people of Kerala in wishing him good health and happiness," the governor said in a tweet.
In a Facebook post, Vijayan greeted "Dear comrade VS" on his birthday, describing him as a 'towering figure' in the history of struggles of the proletarian class.
"Revolutionary salutes to comrade VS on his 98th birthday. His inspiration endures," Yechury said in a tweet.
Describing Achuthanandan as 'the legendary CPM leader of Kerala,' former Union minister Jairam Ramesh recalled 'fondly' the many meetings he had with him when he was Kerala chief minister.
"Today, V S Achuthanandan, the legendary CPM leader of Kerala, turns 98. I recall fondly the many meetings I had with him when he was CM between 2006 and 2011. He wouldn't let me have it easy, but always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile. A man of great simplicity and honesty," Ramesh tweeted.
Born on October 20, 1923. in a working class family in Alappuzha district, Velikkakath Sankaran Achuthanandan became part of the trade union after ending his formal education at the primary level.
Joining the Communist movement, his life is linked with its history in the state including the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising, underground activities of the party after it was banned in 1949 following the Calcutta thesis and formation of the CPI-M following the split in the CPI in 1964.
Achuthanandan, who became a CPI-M politburo member in 1996, headed the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government in 2006-11, defeating the efforts by his rivals in the party to deny him a chance.
He is staying at his son's residence here after stepping down as chairman of the administrative reforms commission in January this year.