Senior CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan passes away at 70

"The demise of my dear comrade and friend Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leaves me devastated. He was an astute leader who dedicated his entire life to build the communist movement and uplift the downtrodden," Kerala CM Vijayan said.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
Known for his no-nonsense attitude, diplomatic skills and decision-making capabilities, Balakrishnan had been a crisis manager for the party during turbulent times.

CPI (M) senior leader and former Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, known for his organisational calibre and Parliamentary expertise, died at a hospital in Chennai on Saturday (October 1) night, the party said. He was 70.

He had been undergoing treatment for cancer for some time, according to party leaders.

He is survived by wife SR Vinodini and two sons.

Also read: Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Binoy accused of rape

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“Long Live Com Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. It is with deep grief and sorrow that we give the news of the passing away of Veteran communist Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and former Secretary of Kerala State Committee. We dip the red flag in homage,” CPI(M) tweeted.

Considered as the second strongest leader in the Kerala CPI(M) after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan these days, Balakrishnan was a politburo member of the Left party, who had served as the CPI(M) State secretary from 2015 to 2022.

A multiple-time MLA, he also served as the Minister of Home and Tourism Affairs in the V S Achuthanandan Ministry during 2006-2011.

Due to failing health, he stepped down as the party State secretary in August after being elected for the third consecutive term to the top organisational post early this year.

Known for his no-nonsense attitude, diplomatic skills and decision-making capabilities, Balakrishnan had been a crisis manager for the party during turbulent times.

Also read: Days after son’s arrest, Kodiyeri quits as Kerala CPI(M) chief on health grounds

Amid his stern and tough-faced colleagues including Vijayan, Balakrishnan set a difference with his liberal views, pragmatic approaches and above all a smiling face which earned him the epithet “smiling Communist.”

Born to a humble family of a primary school teacher at Thalassery in politically volatile Kannur district on November 16, 1953, he began his politcal career through students politics and became the State secretary of the Students Federation of India (SFI) at the age of 20.

He served as the national joint secretary of SFI and district secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and led the party’s student and youth outfits in a commendable way braving the attacks of the political opponents and police assault during Emergency.

Making his way into mainstream politics, he served as the Kannur district secretary of the Marxist party for five years from 1990.

In the later decades, Balakrishnan rose to various party ranks including as a member of State committee, State secretariat, central committee and finally a polit buro member in the Party Congress held in Coimbatore in 2008.

The leader proved his mettle as a parliamentarian while elected to the State Assembly for five times – 1982, 1987, 2001, 2006 and 2011.

During his tenure as Home Minister from 2006-11 that the much aclaimed “janamaithri police” programme, a path-breaking initiative aimed to bridge the gap between the law enforcers and public, was implemented in the southern State.

He also proved his leadership and diplomatic skills while serving as a deputy opposition leader in the State Assembly for various years.

Participation in mass agitations and meticulous organisation of party programmes helped Balakrishnan earn a mass support base in the party.

CPI (M) State secretary MV Govindan told reporters in Chennai that the mortal remains of Balakrishnan would be taken to his home district Kannur in an air ambulance on Sunday.

The cremation would be held at Payyambalam beach on Monday, the party leaders said.

Cutting across party politics, people from various walks of life condoled the death of Balakrishnan.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, in his message, said his calm, friendly nature and unwavering commitment to ensuring people’s welfare endeared him to everyone.

The contributions of Balakrishnan as Minister and as a leader, who earned mass support through his involvement in social causes, would be long remembered, he said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted, “The demise of my dear comrade and friend Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leaves me devastated. He was an astute leader who dedicated his entire life to build the communist movement and uplift the downtrodden. He will continue to inspire us in our struggles. Red Salute, Comrade.”

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