Veteran CPM leader Viswanatha Menon dies at 92

Veteran leader, Viswanatha Menon dies at 92
V Viswanatha Menon was the finance minister of the E K Nayanar ministry in 1987.

Kochi: Veteran leader and former Finance Minister, V Viswanatha Menon, 92, passes away. He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kochi. He was the finance minister in the E K Nayanar ministry in 1987.

He was a Member of the Parliament for two terms. Menon has presented five budgets in the Kerala legislature. For a long time, he held the record of presenting the longest budget speech in the history of Kerala. His record speech of 2 hours 35 minutes was later altered by the late K M Mani's record of 2 hours 36 minutes and 25 seconds.

Menon, popularly known as 'Ambadi Viswam', held several important designations for CPM in parliamentary democracy including town councillor, MP, MLA and minister before distancing himself from the party. He later, accused the party of losing its integrity and becoming the Congress party's B team. Jyoti Basu's announcement that Sonia Gandhi would be the next Prime Minister prompted Menon's immediate exit from the party.

His re-entry to politics occured in 2004 Lok-Sabha by elections much to the surprise of his former party. He contested against the CPM with the support of BJP and BTR-EMS-AKG People's Forum.

Though the candidacy sparked debates across the state, it was the beginning of his political solitude. The veteran leader responsible for bringing the Cochin shipyard to Kerala and steering the finance ministry of the state withdrew into his shell after losing the elections.

Menon who won the parliament elections in 1956 from Ernakulam constituency became a master in politics in the next ten years. He won the 1967 Lok-Sabha elections by a margin of 19,000 votes against M M Thomas. He later confessed that the support of the Muslim League at the time played a significant role in garnering support. He is the only candidate who has won the Lok-Sabha elections under the CPM ticket from Ernakulam constituency. The others were independents supported by LDF.

Menon was also a member of the Rajya Sabha. After he became the finance minister in 1987, the party used him to win back the Ernakulam constituency in 1991. But the sympathy wave which materialised from the Rajiv Gandhi assassination denied him a win.

He is survived by his wife- K Prabhavaty Menon (retired teacher), children- Adv. V Ajith Narayanan (Former Senior Govt. Pleader), Dr V Madhava Chandran, and daughter-in-laws- Dr Sreeja Ajith (Asst. Professor, St Peter's College, Kolencherry, Preeti Madhav (Asst. Professor, EMS College, Edathala).

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