By Sanu George� Thrissur (Kerala)�:�Often called an 'iron man' in political circles due to his dour demeanour, CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan nowadays can be seen sporting a smile as he drums up support for his party ahead of the Kerala assembly elections.
Though there is a significant change in his tough body language, the 72-year-old veteran politician insists there has been no change whatsoever in him as he undertakes a statewide yatra.
"...what needs to be noted is that I am now no longer a party secretary. Hence, I am not under frequent attack now," the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader told IANS on Sunday.
Vijayan was secretary of the Kerala state committee of the CPI-M from 1998 to 2015, the longest tenure in the party's history.
Quizzed further on a palpable change in his demeanour, he countered: "Are these not just perceptions and impressions of the people?"
At present, Vijayan is busy leading his party's 'Nava Kerala March' to warm up the CPI-M rank and file in the southern state for the assembly polls, likely to be held in April/May. Ever since the beginning of his yatra, Vijayan has been drawing huge crowds.
He said there has been good public response to his yatra. "This time, there appears to be a huge response from women and children, who waited in front of their homes to see the yatra pass by," the leftist leader said.
Saying that the BJP will not be able to open its account in the Kerala assembly in the coming elections, Vijayan said the recent political alliance between Hindu Ezhava strongman Vellapalli Natesan and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh combine had been rejected by the supporters and followers of both.
"The BJP will in no way open its account in the assembly. If the ruling Congress and the BJP try to enter into some sort of secret pact, the end result will be similar to what happened in the past... in such case, secular people will turn towards us," Vijayan said.
As for the ways to tackle corruption, the leftist leader said there was need to take a closer look at a few administrative reforms committee recommendations gathering dust in the state secretariat.
Asked about the next chief minister of Kerala, he said that his party did not go to polls by projecting a candidate for the top political post in the state.
Questioned if there will be a contest for the top post between him and 92-year-old V.S. Achuthanandan, Vijayan said there had never been such a contest in the Kerala CPI-M.(IANS)