Achuthanandan appointed head of Kerala reforms panel

Thiruvananthapuram : Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who was in contention for the top political post in Kerala after the May 16 assembly elections, was on Wednesday appointed chairman of the Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC), a post carrying cabinet status.

Now, all eyes are on 92-year-old veteran leader, who remained the Chief Minister of Kerala during 2006-11, whether he will accept the post.

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After Pinarayi Vijayan was made the Chief Minister of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in May, Achuthanandan categorically said that none of those who know him will believe he is hankering after any post.

Sources close to the former Chief Minister said once he receives the government notification, cleared on Wednesday by the state Cabinet, he will speak to the media.

It is the first time that a former Chief Minister has been given the ARC post.

On two previous occasions, the ARC was headed by serving Chief Ministers — E.M.S. Namboodiripad and later by E.K. Nayanar. Senior Indian Civil Service officer M.K. Vellodi, who also served as a diplomat, also led the ARC at one point of time.

The ARC post is seen as an attempt to mollify the veteran who was aiming for the Chief Minister’s post for the second time after leading the LDF to a huge win in the May 16 assembly polls.

However, the national leadership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist honoured him with a ceremonial status of ‘Kerala’s Fidel Castro’ and made his party colleague and arch rival Pinarayi Vijayan the Chief Minister.

Last month, the Kerala assembly amended a 1951 rule to enable a legislator to take up the post of ARC chairman, which was opposed by the Congress-led opposition.

Ever since Achuthanandan’s name was doing the rounds for the administrative reforms panel’s post, questions were raised as to whether he would accept it.

Last month, a person moved the Kerala High Court on the proposed appointment. On Tuesday, the state government was directed to file an affidavit within three weeks as the petitioner pointed out that the post was not advertised and that Achuthanandan was merely Class 7 pass.