What makes VS tick?
It is his simplicity and straightforwardness which makes VS Achuthanandan so popular amongst the masses
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
In a state which shuns the idol worshipping of its political icons unlike neighbouring Tamil Nadu, VS Achuthanandan is an exception. A mythical figure in party circles, he is the staunch communist who is not too fond of information technology, does not watch movies and has a bank balance of 50,000 rupees. He may also be the next Chief Minister of Kerala. Before the poll results are announced it would be interesting to assess why Velikakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan now in his early 90s is still popular amongst the masses. One probable reason could be his decidedly dogged determination to take on the clout of corporate houses. Alarmed at the rapid depletion of groundwater in Palakkad, VS as he is fondly known as, banned the production and retailing of Pepsi and Coca Cola in the state. It were the manufacturing plants of these two corporate behemoths which were responsible for the water crisis in Palakkad. He has also been instrumental in shaping the public education system in Kerala. Following Achuthanandan’s decision to promote free gnu/Linux software, nearly 1.5 million students in the state’s 2,650 government and government-aided high schools do not use the Windows platform for computer education. About 56,000 high school teachers were trained on the Linux platform as a result. “We wish to make Kerala the foss (Free and Open Source Software) destination of India,” said Achuthanandan, in response to criticism. In 2000, as Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, he was the first Indian leader to have discussions with free software guru Richard Stallman. Stallman is now one of Kerala’s IT advisors, much to the embarrassment of Achuthanandan’s party rivals led by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Vijayan’s group had favoured introducing Microsoft software in schools during the AK Antony regime. However, Achuthanandan stuck to Linux and warned Antony against Microsoft. The main reason for Achuthanandan’s popularity is his simplicity and straightforwardness. Also, it is said that he has never been known to hesitate to raise his voice whenever he discovers irregularities. And if later proven wrong, he has always been quick to publicly acknowledge it. Whether it is the drinking water scarcity in Plachimada or the multi-million dollar mnc software war, Achuthanandan is heard with rapt attention because the Kerala voter is confident of him. He has relentlessly pursued corruption cases and harassed mafia that deal in ganja, sandalwood and land. The sand mafia and the sandalwood mafia, the plantation companies encroaching on public land, the tourist resort operators who ravaged God’s Own Country to fill their coffers, the sex lords who exploited women and minor girls, the private hospital owners who built a business of trading in human organs — all have met their match in this diminutive man. It remains to be seen whether he will be anointed Chief Minister once more.