Thiruvananthapuram: Former CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan passed away in Chennai on Saturday. He was 68.
CPM state secretary M V Govindan told reporters in Chennai that the mortal remains of Balakrishnan would be taken to his home district Kannur in an air ambulance on Sunday.
The cremation would be held at Payyambalam Beach on Monday, party leaders said.
One of Kerala's senior-most politicians, Kodiyeri was a member of the CPM politburo, the top decision-making body of the party.
Kodiyeri had held the Home and Tourism portfolios in the V S Achuthanandan-led cabinet in 2006-2011. He was also the Deputy Opposition Leader in the State Assembly during 2001-2004 and 2011-2016.
The CPM party State conference in Kochi in March this year elected him as the party's State Secretary for a third consecutive term. However, later due to ill health he handed over the responsibility to MV Govindan.
Kodiyeri represented Thalassery in the State Assembly five times, 1982, 1987, 2001, 2006 and 2011.
Diagnosed with cancer, Kodiyeri had received treatment from the US in October 2019.
He visited the US for treatment in April this year. The party centre coordinated the functions of the CPM till his return in May. Kodiyeri had cited health reasons to avail leave for a year from the party in 2020. A Vijayaraghavan, currently a politburo member, was the acting State secretary of the CPM in his absence.
Kodiyeri is survived by wife S R Vinodini, an employee of Audio-Visual Reprographic Centre in Thiruvananthapuram and daughter of CPM leader and former MLA from Thalassery M V Rajagopal, and sons Benoy and Bineesh. Dr Akhila and Reneeta are his daughters-in-law.
Born to lower primary school teacher Kunjunni Kurup of Mottummal in Kodiyeri and Narayani Amma in 1953, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had his schooling from the Junior Basic School and Oniyan Government High School in Kodiyeri.
He completed his pre-degree and graduation from Mahatma Gandhi College in Mahe and University College in Thiruvananthapuram, respectively.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan debuted in politics by setting up a unit of the Kerala Students' Federation (KSF) -- the predecessor of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) -- in Oniyan Government High School and becoming its secretary. He was then a Class IX student.
He became a member of the communist party in 1970 and was the organisation's Eengayil Peedika branch secretary. He was also elected the chairman of the Mahatma Gandhi College union the same year.
The student leader attended the all India conference in Thiruvananthapuram that led to the formation of SFI in December 1970. He became the Kodiyeri local committee of the CPM in 1973, and was elected the State secretary of the SFI the same year, a post he held till 1979.
Kodiyeri was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) at the Central Prison for 16 months during the Emergency in 1975. He had also functioned as the national joint secretary of the SFI.
Kodiyeri was the Kannur district president of the DYFI during 1980-82. The CPM party conference held in Alappuzha in 1988 elected him as a member of its state committee. He led the party in Kannur as its district secretary during 1990-95.
The Kollam state conference in 1995 included Kodiyeri in the CPM State secretariat. The 2002 party congress at Hyderabad elected him to CPM's central committee.
The party congress at Coimbatore in 2008 made him a politburo member, a post which held till his death.
The CPM State conference in Alappuzha named Kodiyeri to succeed Pinarayi Vijayan as the State secretary.
He took over from Pinarayi on February 23, 2015. He was reelected to the post by the State conferences in Kannur and Kochi in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
Kodiyeri had also functioned as the State joint secretary and treasurer of Kerala Karshaka Sangham, and member of All India Kisan Sabha.