Veteran CPI leader and former Kerala Minister, E Chandrasekharan Nair, whose name was synonymous with value-based politics in the state, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 89.
Chandrasekharan, whose health had deteriorated in recent years due to age-related ailments, had been on ventilator support at the Sree Chithra Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram for several days. He breathed his last at around 12.30pm on Wednesday.
The cremation for the CPI leader is scheduled to take place on Friday at Santhikavadam, the public crematorium at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram. According to reports, the ceremony has been so scheduled to give Chandrasekharan’s son time to arrive from the US.
The tallest leader of the CPI in the state, Chandrasekharan was a member of the first Legislative Assembly in the state in 1957, when EMS Namboothiripad created history by heading the first ever democratically-elected Communist government in the world.
Born in Kollam, Chandrasekharan became political active as a student. He secured his first electoral victory from the Kottarakkara constituency in Kollam. Alongside his political career, he remained a practicing lawyer till 1970.
A six-time legislator and a three-time Minister, Chandrasekharan has been known as arguably the best Food and Civil Supplies Minister the state has seen, holding the portfolio in 1980, 1987 and 1996. Additionally, he also handled the Animal Husbandry portfolio from 1987 to 1991 and the Law and Tourism portfolios from 1996 to 2001.
During his 1987 tenure as Food Minister, Chandrasekharan initiated the move to start the ‘Maveli Stores’, which later flourished as one of the strongest public-sector ventures in the state – providing essential commodities at less-than-market, fair price rates.
A strong advocate of the co-operative movement, he was the President of the State Cooperative Bank for eight years and led the Kollam District Co-operative bank for many years.
Chandrasekharan was always reputed for bringing efficiency and responsiveness to administration, and was one of the political leaders whose name was never dragged into any kind of controversies. Even among political opponents, his non-compromising stand on people friendly policies were acknowledged and respected.
Chandrasekharan also helmed the Adhoc Committee for the formation of Subject Committees in 1980. This Committee recommended the formation of ten subject Committees for the scrutiny of the state budget, a major governance innovation in the country’s history.
Chandrasekharan contested Assembly polls for the last time in 1996 from Karunagappally in Kollam. A publicity-shy leader, he was set against the publication of his photo on election campaign posters. “Those are all unnecessary things,” he had told Asianet in an interview.
Expressing his condolences, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, "The death of Chandrasekharan Nair is a huge loss to Kerala’s social and public life. He had played a major role in strengthening the unity of the Left front, and in making Kerala society secular. He had sacrificed much to strengthen the Communist movement in the state."