Veteran Kerala politician Balakrishna Pillai is no more
R Balakrishna PillaiIANS (FIle photo)

Veteran Kerala politician Balakrishna Pillai is no more

Thiruvananthapuram, May 3, 2021

R. Balakrishna Pillai, one of Kerala's stalwart politicians, breathed his last at a hospital at Kottarakara on Monday, said family sources. He was 87.

Pillai was ailing due to age-related problems and was a few days ago admitted to the hospital following breathing problems. He breathed his last this morning.

His death came just a day after his film star son K. B. Ganesh Kumar won his fifth straight assembly elections from Pathanapuram in Kollam district.

Pillai's glorious political career began in 1960, when he won his first assembly election from Pathanapuram as a Congress candidate and then he had no reason to look back till 2006, when he lost from his home base at Kottarakara and after that he has stayed away from electoral politics.

In 1964 he was one of the founders of the Kerala Congress party, which over the years has undergone numerous splits and after 1977 he has been heading his own party -- Kerala Congress (B) -- and has been a State Minister on numerous occasions under both the Left and the Congress-led UDF.

In his long career, during which he was elected eight times to the Kerala Assembly and once to the Lok Sabha, he was also in the news for other reasons which included a jail term for a year in 2011, after he was indicted in a corruption case for award of a contract for a power project.

After a brief sojourn in the jail, considering his health condition, he was given amnesty by the then Oommen Chandy government.

In 1985 while being a State Minister in the cabinet of K. Karunakaran, he had to quit after a petition surfaced that he made a public speech asking people to resort to terrorism and to wage a war against the Union of India on the lines of "Punjab model", to achieve their objectives.

Then came more trouble for him when Oommen Chandy replaced A.K. Antony in 2004 as Chief Minister. Pillai was dropped as a Minister, which led to his anger against Chandy.

After his defeat in 2006 assembly polls, he did not stand for any more elections and in 2015 he and his party left the Congress-led UDF and joined the CPI-M-led LDF.

And when the Pinarayi Vijayan government assumed office in 2016, he was given a post with the status of a Cabinet Minister.

The last rites will be held at Punalur, near here, later in the day.

Apart from being a top politician, he was also a strongman in the Nair Service Society -- the socio-cultural organisation of the powerful Hindu Nair community.

IANS

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