Communist Party of India (CPI) Kerala Secretary Kanam Rajendran, the party’s top leader in the state, passed away on Friday at a private hospital in Kochi following a cardiac arrest. He was 73.
He had recently taken leave after being hospitalised for multiple ailments, including an injury on a leg and high diabetes levels. On Friday evening, he passed away after a sudden cardiac arrest.
“His death is an irreparable loss to the state, the CPI and the LDF [Left Democratic Front]. He was an irreplaceable and strong leader. Along with CPM [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who passed away last year, Kanam Rajendran had played a key role in building a strong Left coalition, which led to the return of the LDF government to power in 2021. To bear this loss, the party and its workers will have to stand strong,” said CPI leader and state revenue minister K Rajan.
Rajendran was a two-time MLA from the erstwhile Vazhoor Assembly constituency between 1982 and 1991 and remained at the helm of the CPI as its state secretary over three terms since March 2, 2015.
A member of the central secretariat of the CPI, Rajendran remained a powerful figure within the ruling LDF and often crossed swords with the CPI(M) leadership on various issues. As the leader of the second-biggest party in the coalition, he was instrumental in persuading the CPI(M) to take a strong stand, especially on subjects like corruption and environmental protection.
One of the memorable instances was when Rajendran asked the ministers of his party in 2017 to stay away from a cabinet meeting to send the message that the CPI was not in favour of the then Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister and corruption-accused Thomas Chandy continuing in office. Ultimately, Chandy resigned from the cabinet.
Rajendran made his way into state politics through the Nationalist Congress Party (AIYF), the youth wing of the CPI, and became its state secretary in 1969 at the age of 19.
At 26, he was a member of the CPI’s state secretariat and headed the party’s Kottayam district unit twice. He was elected to the Assembly from Vazhoor twice, in 1982 and 1987, respectively. Though he contested three more times, he was unsuccessful.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, condoling the demise of Rajendran, said, “Through his death, we have lost one of the strong pillars of the Left unity in Kerala. His contributions are unparalleled in strengthening the Communist movement and the unity among workers, protecting democratic institutions and preserving secular values.”
CPI leaders said Rajendran’s mortal remains will be taken by air on Saturday from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram, where tributes can be paid to him by the public at the party’s state office. In the evening, his body will be taken by road as part of a procession to Kottayam district, where it will be kept at the district party office. The funeral will take place on Sunday at 11am in his ancestral village.
First appeared on www.hindustantimes.com