Kodiyeri: A fellow prisoner and life-long friend of Pinarayi Vijayan

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan set to return as CPM State secretary
By the time he finished schooling, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had earned the name of a student leader. Photo: Manorama

The Muttemmal House in Kodiyeri was home to Congress supporters.

It was from that home, where neither his mother nor his father was interested in Communism, that a teenager named Balakrishnan took the embers of Communism into his heart and later became a flame in Kerala politics as Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

It was his uncle Nanu Nambiar who ignited Balakrishnan's interest in Communism.

He joined the KSF (Kerala Students Federation) in the 8th standard.

His father Kunjunnikurup was a teacher. But Balakrishnan lost his father when he was studying in the 6th standard. His mother took care of the family by taking up farming and rearing cows.

Being the youngest brother of four sisters, he grew up with a lot of affection. His mother and relatives called him Mani endearingly.

From a very young age, he was very interested in elocution. He started participating in competitions in school from the 5th standard.

The public library in Kodiyeri fostered his habit in reading. It was in that reading room that the KSF met and elected Balakrishnan as its secretary.
Pinarayi Vijayan, who was then the state secretary, came to form KSF in his school. Pinarayi was studying in college then.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Photo: Manorama.

Students were brought into the organisation by campaigning that Pinarayi was coming to school.

Vaikom Viswan was then the state president.
By the time he finished schooling, Balakrishnan had earned the name of a student leader. Two Balakrishnans participated in the student camp on behalf of Oniyan High School - Balakrishnan of Moozhikara and Balakrishnan of Muliyilnada.

During the registration, the former named Muttammel Balakrishnan, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, which later became a nationally recognised name.

While still a student at Mahi College, he was instrumental in forming the SFI in the college in 1970.

In the first college union election, he became its first chairman.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Photo: Manorama.

Present LDF convener EP Jayarajan was the district president when Kodiyeri was the SFI district secretary.

After being elected the state vice-president of SFI, he shifted his base to Thiruvananthapuram. He completed his studies at the University College.

He became the SFI state secretary at the age of 20. G Sudhakaran was the state president then.
When the Emergency was declared, many student leaders were arrested under the MISA Act. MA Baby, G Sudhakaran, M Vijayakumar, and Pinarayi Vijayan all became his fellow prisoners in the jail.

In the evening, the prisoners would engage in games. The main games were football and badminton.

Many of his fellow prisoners later said that Kodiyeri, Pinarayi, and O Bharatan played badminton well.

After locking up in the evening, it was time for reading. As CPM prisoners are a single block, they read the books alternately. The main problem was the lone, unclean toilet in the block.

He was released after a year and a half of incarceration. He remained the SFI state secretary till 1980.
Although 18 is the age to join the CPM, Kodiyeri joined the party after he turned 16.

He worked as a branch and local secretary while still a college student.
His friendship with Pinarayi, which started when he was still a school student, continued till the end.

Kodiyeri implemented Pinarayi's decisions without hesitation.

While he maintained good relations with the party leaders, he kept a good rapport with Ramesh Chennithala, VM Sudheeran, Oommen Chandy, and others from the opposition ranks.

A gentle demeanor deepened friendships.

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