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Thiruvananthapuram

Manju Warrier weaves magic with Kuchipudi recital

Actress-dancer Manju Warrier during a Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 in Thiruvananthapuram on October 9, 2016.
Actress-dancer Manju Warrier during a Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 in Thiruvananthapuram on October 9, 2016.
Devotion in both its rapturous and sublime forms, agony that seals separation in love and jubilance that only an impending festival can bring: these were some of the moods that well-known actress-dancer Manju Warrier created on stage during her Kuchipudi recital at the Soorya Dance and Music Festival 2016 at the Tagore Theatre here yesterday.
 
Manju began her recital with Ananda Natanam Adum Vinayaka, a Ganesha Stuthi that depicted the rapturous dance of bliss by Lord Ganapathi, the beloved Elephant God who is also the bestower of smooth transitions and successful endings.  The composition was penned by Madhurai R Muralidharan and was set to ragam Gowla and Adithalam.
 
The audiences witnessed an episode in Lord Krishna's life through Ati Nirupama Sundarangara where she depicted Satyabhama and Rukmini, their consort Lord Krishna and Sage Narada who came to inspect how the Lord is managing wives' quarrels. The composition on sublime devotion was penned by the 18th century poet Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiar and was set to ragam Panthuvarali and Adithala. 
 
The audience shared Radha’s pangs of separation as Manju brought the divine lover on the stage via Bhakta-kavi Jayadeva’s Astapadi. The composition was set to raga Darbari Kanada and adithalam.
 
The mood of torment and pathos soon changed with a depiction of Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance, Anandanadam Aduvar Thille. The keerthanam was composed by Neelakanda Sivan and was set to ragam poorvikalyani and thalam Roopakam.
 
The recital was brought to a grand and elaborate finale with a thillana wherein a village readied itself to celebrate Lord Muruga’s birthday on Thrikarthika. The composition by Lalgudi S Jayaram was set to ragam Kamas and Adithalam.  
 
Geetha Padmakumar who was on the Nattuvangam choreographed the recital. Bijeesh Krishna brought the music to life through his soulful voice with accompanying artistes Kalamandalam Charudutt on Mridangam, Suresh Namboodiri on violin, Vivek Shenoy on flute and Murali Krishna on Veena.
 
Manju Warrier is one of the most popular actors in Malayalam cinema. She has acted in 27 Malayalam movies, most of which became superhits. She won a special jury mention by the National Award jury in 1999 for her role in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. She is a celebrated danseuse and is known for her Kuchipudi performances. Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi has awarded her Kalashree title for her contributions to Kuchipudi.
 
She has also forayed into the theatre by enacting Shakuntala in the Sanskrit play Abhijnana Shakutalam written by Mahakavi Kalidasa and directed by the late Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. 
 
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Kerala Congress (Mani) severs three-decade-old ties with UDF

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Kerala Congress (Mani) leader K. M. Mani today announced his decision to sever his party's links of more than three decades with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state, blaming a section of the Congress leaders for the soured ties.
 
Talking to newspersons, Mr. Mani, 83, also declared that his party would never return to the UDF or join the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) or the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. 
 
He said his party's six MLAs would sit as a separate block in the state legislative assembly.
 
The decision was announced at the end of the two-day meeting of the Kerala Congress (M) at Charalkunnu in Pathanamthitta district.
 
Mr. Mani said his party would extend issue-based support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre. He also said that his party w ould continue its relationship with the UDF in the local self-government bodies and cooperatives in Kerala.
 
Mr. Mani, who was Finance Minister in the Oommen Chandy-led UDF Government and had resigned from the Cabinet last November, months before the Assembly elections, in the wake of mounting pressure on him to quit following adverse remarks made against him by the Kerala High Court in relation to the bar bribery case, said he had taken the decision to quit the UDF with a heavy heart.
 
He said his party had played an important role in the growth of the UDF in Kerala. He said some Congress leaders were treating his party as "enemy number one" and there was a limit to his and his colleagues' tolerance. He said his feelings were akin to those of a son leaving his house.
 
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He accused some Congress leaders, without naming anyone, of conspiring to defeat his party's candidates in elections. He said special funds were allocated for this purpose and workers were recruited specially for the purpose.
 
 "We should have taken this decision earlier. We have now taken this decision to uphold our pride," he said.
 
"However, we bear no grudge against anyone, and wish the UDF well," he added.
 
Congress leaders Ramesh Chennithala and V M Sudheeran criticised the decision, saying the Kerala Congress (M) had already made up its mind to leave the UDF and was only looking for an excuse.
 
Mr. Chandy said he was pained by the decision and said that every effort had been made to solve the various probems between the two parties at various stages.
 
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Kerala Tourism hitches ride on Dubai cabs

A Kerala-branded taxi in Dubai as part of the Kerala Tourism's campaign in the Middle East.
A Kerala-branded taxi in Dubai as part of the Kerala Tourism's campaign in the Middle East.
With the onset of the outbound tourism season in the Gulf and the Middle East, Kerala Tourism has rolled out a high-octane promotional campaign in Dubai targeting Arab travellers and showcasing the state’s spectacular features via colourful visuals draped on a bevy of taxis moving through the bustling metropolis.
 
As many as 200 Kerala-branded taxis will ferry the message of ‘A Faraway Land Four Hours Away’– with eye-catching visuals featuring hill stations, backwaters, waterfalls as also Ayurvedic therapies – through the streets of Dubai, the throbbing heart of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
The campaign will see the cabs take to the streets sporting wrappings designed to promote the state’s monsoon getaways, offering respite from the sizzle of the Arabian summer.
 
“Apart from the favourable climate, the relative proximity and excellent air connectivity between Kerala and the cities of the Middle East make it easier to attract holiday makers to the state,” said Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary (Tourism), Kerala Government.
 
“Dubai, being the hub for air travel in the region, was the logical choice of location for the marketing campaign. The exposure and footfalls gained by Kerala will bear this out," he said.
 
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The campaign, inspired by the previous highly successful branding efforts on London taxi cabs and the Mumbai metro, will run until August 15. Besides serving to augment Kerala’s destination pull, it is an acknowledgment of the growing importance of the Middle East outbound tourist market – the world’s fastest-growing segment with a nine per cent rise in outbound trips in 2015.
 
Arab tourists are also the biggest spenders. Kerala received more than one lakh visitors from the region in 2015, with some 20,506 tourists from the UAE alone. The majority came from Saudi Arabia with 51,149 Saudi nationals visiting last year, while Oman accounted for 18,763 footfalls.
 
“As the holiday season in the Middle East coincides with the monsoon season here, Kerala is well-positioned to benefit from the influx of travellers looking to trade in the sizzle and dust for cooler climes and greener pastures,” said Mr. U.V. Jose, Director, Kerala Tourism.
 
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Malayalam playwright, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar passes away

Kavalam Narayana Panicker
Kavalam Narayana Panicker
Noted Malayalam theatre personality Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, a versatile playwright and poet who brought a new dimension to Malayalam theatre by adapting several classical Sanskrit works and Shakespeare plays, passed away at his residence here late tonight.
 
He was 88. He is survived by his wife and a son, Kavalam Sreekumar, a playback singer. His elder son son Harikrishnan had died in 2009. 
 
Panikkar suffered from various age-related ailments in the past few years and had been hospitalised on June 13. He breathed his last around 10 pm today, sources said.
 
Popularly known as Kavalam, Panikkar was founder-director of ‘Sopanam’ theatre troupe and later the Bhasha Bharati Centre for Performing Arts, Training and Research in Thiruvananthapuram.
 
His notable plays include Madhyamavyayogam (1979), Vikramorvashiyam (1981, 1996), based on Kalidasa’s famous work, Shakuntalam (1982), Karnabharam, Bhasa’s Uru Bhangam, Swapnavasavadattam and Dootavakyam, authored and staged over a period from 1979 to 1996.
 
He was a recipient of the 1983 Sangeet Natak Akademi award in direction and later received the Akademi’s highest honour, the Sangeet Natak Akademic Fellowship in 2002.
 
The Government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2007.
 
Born on April 28, 1928, Panikkar took a degree in Economics from S. D. College, Alapuzha and later obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the Madras Law College. He practised law for six years before deciding to devote himself to art and literature.
 
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In 1961, he was nominated as Secretary of Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy, Thrissur, where lived for some time before shifting his residence to the state capital in 1974.
 
During this period, his play Avanavan Kadamba was filmed by well-known filmmaker G. Aravindan. He also worked in the Soviet Union and with Greek artists on a production of Iliyayana, a fusion of India's Ramayana and the Greek epic Iliad.
 
Panikkar directed two films about Kutiyattam maestro Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar: Mani Madhava Chakyar: The Master at Work (1994) and Parvati Viraham (1993) in Kuttiyattam form featuring Mani Madhava Chakyar as Ravana.
 
He also wrote lyrics for Malayalam films such as Ulsavapittennu, Manjadikuru, Vadakakkoru Hridayam and Marmaram. He won Kerala State Film Award for Best Lyrics for the latter two films.
 
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South-west monsoon arrives over Kerala

 
Southwest monsoon arrives over Kerala
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today announced the onset of the southwest monsoon over Kerala, a week later than its normal arrival date of June 1.
 
The monsoon has further advanced into remaining parts of south Arabian Sea, Maldives Comorin area, most parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, some parts of south interior Karnataka, remaining parts of south Bay of Bengal and some more parts of central
Bay of Bengal, a press release from IMD said.
 
The release said that the 14 stations for which the rainfall is being monitored for declaring the monsoon onset over Kerala had reported widespread rainfall for the last 48 hours with more than 60 % of stations reporting rainfall on June 7 and 8.
 
It said westerly/west-southwesterly winds of the order of 30-40 kmph were observed upto 600 hPa (approximately upto 4.5km) over the south Arabian Sea (equator to Lat. 10oN and Long. 55oE to 80oE).
 
The satellite (INSAT-3D) derived Outgoing Longwave Radiation value in the box confined by Lat. 5-10oN, Long. 70-80oE was less than 200 W/m2 on June 8, it said.
 
"All these three conditions got fulfilled for the first time today, 8th June 2016, since the monitoring was started by IMD from 10th May 2016. As a result, the Southwest Monsoon has set in over Kerala, today, the 8th June 2016," the release said.
 
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According to it, the Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM) passes through Lat. 12oN / Long. 60oE, Lat. 12oN / Long. 70oE, Kannur, Chennai, Lat. 14oN / Long. 84oE, Lat. 17oN / Long. 92oE, Lat. 18oN / Long. 94oE.
 
In its forecast for the next 48 hours, it said conditions were favourable for further advance of southwest Monsoon into some parts of central Arabian Sea, coastal Karnataka, remaining parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, some more parts of south interior Karnataka, some parts of south Andhra Pradesh and some more parts of central Bay of Bengal.
 
The onset of southwest monsoon over Kerala signals the arrival of monsoon over the Indian sub-continent and represents the beginning of the rainy season over the region. 
 
The southwest monsoon normally arrives in Kerala on June 1, but, on May 15, the IMD had said that it was likely to be "slightly delayed" and that it was now expected to arrive over the state on June 7. Yesterday, the IMD said the monsoon would arrive within the next two days.
 
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CPI (M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan sworn in as Chief Minister of Kerala

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Kerala at the head of an 18-member Cabinet in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

 
Pinarayi Vijayan sworn in as new Chief Minister of Kerala
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Kerala at the head of an 18-member Council of Ministers here today.
 
Mr. Vijayan, 72, and his ministerial colleagues were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor P. Sathasivam at the Central Stadium here this afternoon.
 
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo memember Prakash Karat, senior party leader and former Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda were amonst those present on the occasion.
 
People from all walks of life attended the ceremony, including a galaxy of popular Malayalam film stars such as Mammootty, Madhu, Mukesh (who is one of the new MLAs), Dilip, K P A C Lalita and Innocent, who is a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
While the CPI(M) has 12 members in the Council of Ministers, the CPI will have four while three other constituents of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) -- the Janata Dal (S), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress (S) -- have one member each.
 
The CPI(M)-led LDF had won 91 seats in the 140-member Kerala Legislative Assembly while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) ended up with only 47 seats.
 
There ae two women in the Cabinet -- K. K. Shylaja and J. Mercykutty Amma.
 
The CPM Ministers in the Cabinet include Thomas Issac, A. K. Balan and G. S. Sudhakaran, who were also in the previous LDF government headed by Mr. Achuthanandan (2006-11).
 
The party's new faces in the government are E. P. Jayarajan, K. K.  Shylaja, A. C. Moideen, Kadakampally Surendran, T. P. Ramakrishnan, C. Ravindranath, J. Mercykutty Amma and K. T.Jaleel , who had contested the elections as an independent candidate backed by the LDF.
 
Mr. P. Tilothaman has been given Public Distribution and Civil Supplies, while Mr. V. S. Sunil Kumar has been given Agriculture.
 
Mr. Sudhakaran will look after Public Works and Registration while Ms. Shylaja will handle Health and Social Welfare. Mr. Ravindranath will be the Education Minister while Mr. Ramakrishnan will handle Excise and Labour.
 
Mr. Raju of CPI has been assigned the Forest, Wildlife and Environment portfolio. Mr. Moideen will be in charge of Tourism and Cooperation.
 
Ms. Mercykutty Amma will handle Fisheries, while Mr. Surendran will be the Minister for Electricity and Devaswoms.
 
Mr. Jayarajan will look after Sports and Industry, while Mr. Jaleel will be the Minister for Local Self Government. Mr. Balan has been entrusted with the portfolios of Law, Culture and SC/ST Affairs. Mr. Ramachandran will handle Ports. Mr. A. K. Saseendran of the NCP has been given the Transport portfolio, while Mr. Mathew T. Thomas of the JD (S) will handle Water Resources. He was the Transport Minister in the previous LDF government. Mr. E. Chandasekharan of the CPI has been made Revenue Minister.
 
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After the swearing-in ceremony, the Governor hosted tea for the new Ministers and members of their families at Raj Bhavan.
 
Later, Mr. Vijayan presided over the first meeting of his Cabinet in his office.
 
Born on March 21, 1944, in a poor toddy tapper's family in Kannur, Mr. Vijayan worked as a handloom weaver for a year before joining the pre-university course in the Government Brennen College at Thalassery and completing his degree from there.
 
He was active in student movements and worked as the State President and Secetary of the Kerala Students Fedaration (KSF) and State President of Kerala Socialist Youth Federation (KSYF). 
 
He became a member of CPI (M) Kannur District Committee at the age of 24, and District Secretariat at the age of 28. He was elected to the State Legislative Assembly four times, in 1970,1977,1991 and 1996.
 
Mr. Vijayan served as the Minister for Electricity and Co-operation in the E. K. Nayanar Ministry in 1996. 
 
He resigned from the Ministry in 1998 to become the State Secretary of the CPI (M) in 1998, a post he held until 2015. He was elected to the Central Committee and Polit Bureau of CPI (M) in the 16th Party Congress held in Kolkata in 2002.
 
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VS denies hankering after any post, LDF Ministry to be sworn in on May 25

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Veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader V. S. Achuthanandan today dismissed speculation that he had lost out to party colleague Pinarayi Vijayan in the race for the Chief Minister's post, declaring that he was not after any particular post or designation and would continue to stand by the people in their service.
 
Meanwhile, Mr Vijayan, 72, said the new Left Democratic Front (LDF) Ministry would be sworn in on May 25. He started the day by calling on Mr Achuthanandan, 92, and outgoing Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
 
Later, Mr Vijayan told reporters that he had sought advice from his senior party colleague VS (as Mr Achuthanandan is popularly known) as well as Mr Chandy who have had experience in the post.
 
Addressing a press conference, Mr Achuthanandan, who is Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing assembly and a former Chief Minister, said he would continue to stay on here and had no plans of shifting to his home in Alapuzha.
 
Mr. Achuthanandan, who was a contender for the top post, lost out to Mr. Vijayan when the party polit bureau decided against it. Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury lauded VS as the war horse of the election campaign and likened him to Fidel Castro of Cuba. Castro is at present holding only an advisory position in the Cuban government.  
 
He also declared that he was not interested in any particular post or designation. “You know me and what I stand for,” he said in an aside.
 
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Mr Achuthanandan, however, lashed out against the outgoing Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government.
 
“While even little children were aware of several incidents of atrocities on women, irregularities in allotment of government land, bar bribery and solar scam cases, the Chief Minister who had responsibility for garnering evidence and filing cases, washed his hands off, claiming lack of evidence even in charges against himself.”
 
Meanwhile, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V. M. Sudheeran said the nominee for the post of Leader of Opposition would soon be decided by the party high command. He described as baseless reports suggesting differences of opinion in the party. He also said the party would examine in detail factors that led to its poor performance in the May 16 elections, especially at Nemom, where BJP candidate O Rajagopal notched up the first assembly poll victory for the BJP.
 
Meanwhile, Mr Chandy, who submitted his resignation to Governor P. Sathasivam yesterday, vacated the Chief Minister's official residence, Cliff House, and moved into his own house at Jagathy here today.
 
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Pinarayi Vijayan to be next CM of Kerala, VS our warhorse, says Yechury

CPI (M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was all set on Friday to be the next Chief Minister of Kerala after the State Committee of his party chose him as its leader to head the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front government after the coalition ousted the ruling United Democratic Front in the May 16 elections to the State Assembly.

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was all set today to be the next Chief Minister of Kerala after the State Committee of his party chose him as its leader to head the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government after the coalition ousted the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front in the May 16 elections to the State Legislative Assembly.
 
The State Committee ruled in favour of Mr. Vijayan, who, at 72, is much younger than the other contender for the post, former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, 92, and is also seen as more liberal in industrialisation and other matters.
 
The decision was announced to the media by CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who congratulated the party workers and LDF constituents for their hard work that saw the coalition recapture power after a gap of five years.
 
He also paid wholesome compliments to Mr. Achuthanandan describing him variously as “our warhorse” and “Fidel Castro of Kerala.”
 
Earlier in the day, the State Committee meeting of the CPI(M) at AKG Centre at which central leaders including Mr Yechury, Mr. S Ramachandran Pillai and Mr. Prakash Karat were present, had called Mr Achuthanandan to the meeting to inform him about its decision.
 
Speculation has been rife in party circles and the media whether Mr Achuthanandan, known popularly as "VS", would lay claim to the Chief Minister's chair and prevent his long standing rival, Mr. Vijayan, from occupying the top post.
 
A grim looking Mr Achuthanandan was present at the press conference along with state CPI (M) Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. However, both leaders did not speak, leaving all the talking to Mr Yechury.
 
Immediately after the press conference, television channel anchors started speculation about the 'body language' of VS to conclude that he was unhappy with the committee decision.
 
Mr Yechury's equating VS to Castro was interpreted to mean that like the Cuban leader, he would function in an advisory position.
 
The LDF had ousted the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to return to power after five years, winning 91 seats against the UDF's 47 in the 140-member Kerala Assembly after the election results were declared yesterday.
 
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called on Kerala Governor P Sathasivam here today to hand over his resignation. The Governor asked him to continue as caretaker till the new Ministry was sworn in.
 
Mr Chandy expressed confidence at the Congress's ability to stage a strong comeback. “The Congress enjoys good support in villages and towns. The defeat in the election was only temporary due to certain adverse factors and the party will overcome these to emerge stronger,” he said in comments to reporters after meeting the Governor.
 
Asked about reports suggesting that he was not interested in assuming the post of Leader of the Opposition, he said he had conveyed his views to the party leadership and had nothing further to say.
 
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The factors responsible for the electoral setback would be discussed at the Congress party meeting here on May 23 and at the UDF meeting later, he said.
 
About the BJP winning an assembly seat for the first time from Nemam, he said the BJP had not recorded much growth in Kerala. The vote percentage also points to the fact that it has not risen to their expectations.
 
At Nemom, those who did not favour the BJP had voted for CPI(M) thus reducing the UDF vote share in the constituency, he said.
 
Mr. Chandy has become the second Congress leader after K. Karunakaran (1982-87) to complete a full five-year term as Chief Minister in the state.
 
Meanwhile, following the death of a BJP activist, injured in a clash at Kaipamangalam in Thrissur district, the party has called for a “hartal” in the district tomorrow from 6am-6pm.
 
The BJP had alleged that its workers were attacked by some people who arrived in a truck during celebration of the victory of LDF candidate E T Tyson.
 
According to a report from Kutyadi Nettur, Kozhikode, two RSS activists were injured in an attack allegedly by CPI(M) workers who intruded into a house. The injured were admitted to Medical College Hospital.
 
Stray incidents of violence occurred at several places in the state during victory celebrations. At Pinarayi in Kannur, one CPI(M) worker was killed when a home made 'bomb' was flung at a procession. While people ran helter-skelter, one of them came under the wheel of a truck.
 
Born on March 21, 1944, in a poor toddy tapper's family in Kannur, Mr. Vijayan worked as a handloom weaver for a year before joining the pre-university course in the Government Brennen College at Thalassery and completing his degree from there.
 
He was active in student movements and worked as the State President and Secetary of the Kerala Students Fedaration (KSF) and State President of Kerala Socialist Youth Federation (KSYF). 
 
He became a member of CPI (M) Kannur District Committee at the age of 24, and District Secretariat at the age of 28. He was elected to the State Legislative Assembly four times, in 1970,1977,1991 and 1996.
 
Mr. Vijayan served as the Minister for Electricity and Co-operation in the E. K. Nayanar Ministry in 1996. 
 
He resigned from the Ministry in 1998 to become the State Secretary of the CPI (M) in 1998, a post he held until 2015. He was elected to the Central Committee and Polit Bureau of CPI (M) in the 16th Party Congress held in Kolkata in 2002.
 
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LDF wrests Kerala, BJP wins first seat in assembly

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The opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) wrested power from Congress led-United Democratic Front in Kerala while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finally managed to open its account in the Assemby with the victory of party veteran and former Union Minister O. Rajagopal at Nemom here.
 
With its candidates having won 91 seats, the LDF ousted the ruling United Democratic Front, which won 47 seats. 
 
The BJP-led NDA as a newly formed third front had put up its candidates in all the 140 seats but managed to win only one.
 
However, at least seven of its candidates gave a strong challenge to the ultimate winners to end up second in the fray. At Manjeshwar, BJP candidate S Surendran lost by a narrow margin of 79 votes. Former Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth, the party candidate in Thiruvananthapuram, also lost.
 
Among prominent winners were Chief Minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy, his predecessor V S Achuthanandan (LDF), former Finance Minister K M Mani and Government chief whip P C George, who left Kerala Congress (M) to fight from Poonjar as an independent candidate. Film actor Mukesh won from Kollam as a CPI(M) candidate.
 
Mr Achuthanandan polled 73299 votes, winning by 27142 votes in Malampuzha, Palakad. His party colleague and possible Chief Ministerial candidate Pinarayi Vijayan polled total vote of 87329 to win by a margin of 36905 votes in Dharmadam, Kannur.
 
Mr Chandy polled total of 71597 votes to win by 27092 votes in Puthupalli, Kottayam. Mr Mani polled 58884 votes to win in Palai by 4703 votes. Mr George won Poonjar polling 63621 votes to win by 27821 votes.
 
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In Kollam, Mr Mukesh polled 63103 votes to win by a margin of 17611. In Pathanapuram, former Minister and actor KB Ganesh Kumar, who had switched over to the LDF from the UDF before the elections, polled 74429 votes to win by 24562 votes. Among the losers in this constituency was popular comedy actor Jagadish, put up by the Congress.
 
In the losers' list were Ministers K Babu and PK Jayalakshmi..
 
“Kerala is experiencing an LDF wave as a result of the Front's uncompromising stand and struggle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anti-people attitude, corruption, price rise and atrocities against women," Mr. Achuthanandan said.
 
“It is a noteworthy victory that the people of Kerala has given to the LDF. It is a verdict against the rot in the UDF,” Mr. Vijayan said.
 
“In this defeat, both the Front and the party have equal responsibility. As chairman, I have more responsibility. It is an unexpected defeat. But the Congress will come back,” Mr. Chandy said.
 
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LDF races towards victory in Kerala Assembly election

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The opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) was racing towards capturing power in Kerala with its candidates in the lead in 85 of 140 seats while the ruling United Democratic Front was ahead in 47 seats and the BJP-led NDA in one seat as trends indicated during counting of votes in the Assembly elections.
 
Apart from traditional bastions in north Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF was making inroads into Congress-led UDF's strongholds in central and southern Kerala.
 
In Thrissur, LDF candidates were ahead in 13 seats, 9 in Palakad where UDF was in the lead in three. However, in Malappuram, LDF was in the lead only on one seat compared to 12 of the UDF. At Kollam LDF was in the lead in 10 seats and an independent in one seat. At Thiruvanathapuram district, LDF was in the lead in 9, UDF in 4 and NDA in one.
 
Opposition leader and CPI(M) veteran VS Achuthanandan said, “Kerala is experiencing an LDF wave as a result of the Front's uncompromising stand and struggle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anti-people attitude, corruption, price rise and atrocities against women.”
 
Mr Achuthanandan was leading in Malampuzha constituency in Palakad leading by 14178 votes over his nearest NDA rival C Krishnakumar.
 
At Puthupalli in Kottayam district Congress leader and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was leading by 21006 votes over his nearest LDF rival Jaick C Thomas.
 
At Dharmadam, LDF stalwart and contender for the Chief Minister's post Pinarayi Vijayan was leading by 24836 votes over his nearest UDF rival Mambaram Divakaran.
 
At Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district, BJP veteran and former Union Minister O Rajagopal was leading by 8631 votes over his nearest LDF rival V Sivankutty.
 
The trends were in line with exit polls predicting a victory for the LDF.
 
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More than 71.7% polling recorded in Kerala Assembly elections

 
Chandy, Tharoor, Sreesanth cast their votes in Kerala
Despite inclement weather on account of widespread summer rains, voters turned out in much larger numbers than previous years for exercising their franchise in the Kerala assembly election today.
 
More than 71.7% of the electorate had voted by 6:00 pm, the official closing of polling. Long queues were seen at several polling stations during the later part of the day.
 
Early morning rains had slowed down polling in the initial hours after polling started at  7 am, but the downpour failed to dampen the enthusiasm of voters.
 
By and large, voting was peaceful except for minor incidents. At Kannukara in Vadakara, police used batons to disperse clashing Muslim League-SDPI workers. Two Janata Dal (S) workers were injured during a clash between CPM and Janata Dal activists at Chittoor Nallepilli. However, police dismissed it as a personal dispute over sand mining.
 
Top leaders including Oommen Chandy, CPI (M) leaders V S Achuthanandan, Pinarai Vijayan and BJP leaders Kummanam Rajasekharan and former Union Minister O Rajagopal exercised their franchise in the morning itself.
 
The electoral battle for the 140-seat Assembly assumes significance this time due to the presence of a third front comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), Kerala Congress (PC Thomas) and Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samiti (Rajan Babu).
 
Voters in Kerala had for several decades since the 1960s been electing either the UDF or LDF coalitions which the BJP and allies had been describing as “a cozy arrangement” between the two in promoting corruption forcing the youth to seek jobs in far away lands in the absence of industrial development in the state.
 
Mr. Achuthanandan, a former Chief Minister, after exercising his franchise at a polling station in Alapuzha dismissed the challenge from the third front saying that the lotus would only wilt in Kerala or flower only in some pond.
 
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Mr. Chandy and former Union Minister A K Antony expressed confidence that the UDF would return to power based on its record of development in the state during the past five years.
 
A total number of 2,56,08,720 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the election to the 140 seat Kerala assembly compared to 2,29,40,408 in the previous assembly polls that took place in 2011. As many as 21,498 polling stations were set up across the state, an increase of 3.5% over 20,758 in 2011.
 
A record number of 1203 candidates were in the fray this time. While the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is seeking a second term, the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) aims to recapture power it lost five years ago. The BJP-led NDA has formed a third front, trying to end or at least drive a wedge in the bipolar political scene in the state.
 
Counting of votes will take place and results announced on May 19 along with those of the other states that went to the polls -- Assam, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
 
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Kerala to vote on Monday in Assembly election

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is seeking a second term in the May 16 State Assembly Elections.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is seeking a second term in the May 16 State Assembly Elections.
Candidates spent a busy Sunday conducting 'silent campaign', meeting voters at their homes as also in churches and other places of worship on the eve of polling to the 140-seat Kerala assembly.
 
A total number of 2,56,08,720 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the election compared to 2,29,40,408 in the previous assembly polls that took place in 2011. As many as 21,498 polling stations have been set up across the state, an increase of 3.5% over 20,758 in 2011.
 
A record number of 1203 candidates are in the fray this time. While the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is seeking a second term, the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) aims to recapture power it lost five years ago. The BJP-led NDA has formed a third front, trying to end or at least drive a wedge in the bipolar political scene in the state.
 
With campaigning officially coming to a close yesterday evening, party candidates were busy trying to woo voters with door-to-door campaigning as well as visiting churches to woo the sizeable Christian population in the state.
 
In the state capital, candidates of all three fronts, UDF candidate K Muralidharan, LDF nominee TN Seema and Sivan Kutty, NDA candidates, BJP veteran O Rajagopal and fresh entrant, cricketer S Sreeshanth visited several churches unmindful of the summer showers.
 
In central Kerala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy embarked on campaigning after attending morning services at Puthupalli church in his home town. Other prominent UDF leaders like former Finance Minister KM Mani, were busy phoning up voters. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala was engaged in meeting voters face to face at Harippad. In Tripunithra, a “ponkala” ceremony at the Bhuvaneshwari temple at Palluruthi, afforded UDF candidate K Babu and his LDF opponent M Swaraj an opportunity to seek votes among the devotees.
 
In Thrissur, UDF candidate Padmaja Venugopal, LDF's VS Sunil Kumar and BJP's B Gopalakrishnan were also engaged in house-to-house campaigning.
 
LDF veteran and former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan was busy holding meeting with party functionaries at his house in Chandra Nagar in Palakad. Party strongman Pinarayi Vijayan was busy campaigning in his constituency, Dharmadam.
 
The electoral battle assumes significance this time due to the presence of a third front comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), Kerala Congress (PC Thomas) and Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samiti (Rajan Babu).
 
Voters in Kerala had for several decades since the 1960s been electing either the UDF or LDF coalitions which the BJP and allies had been describing as “a cozy arrangement” between the two in promoting corruption forcing the youth to seek jobs in far away lands in the absence of industrial development in the state.
 
Hectic campaigning over the past few weeks saw national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat address several campaign meetings across the state.
 
BJP president Amit Shah, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Smriti Irani had also hit the campaign trail in Kerala.
 
This time too, the election campaign had a fair share of controversies. Mr Modi's equating the situation in certain tribal areas of Kerala to that of Somalia led Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to demand an apology from the Prime Minister. The outrage had spilled over the social media too with several people posting charts comparing Kerala's excellent development indices with that of Gujarat, Mr Modi's home state which is way behind on many counts.
 
The shadow of a yet unsolved murder of a young woman, a law student at Perumbavoor was sought to be exploited by the opposition to put the ruling coalition on the dock.
 
The BJP that has never won a seat in the assembly and whose vote share in the previous assembly election was just 6%, hopes to make gains this time with a strategic alliance with the fledgling BDJS, a party formed with the blessings of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) president Vellapally Natesan, who hopes to break away a substantial section of the Ezhava community supporters from the LDF.
 
The BJP is also heartened by the fact that in the October 2015 local bodies election, it managed to not only win seats but also assume control of a few local bodies while improving its vote share to 13.28 %.
 
The LDF for this election comprises CPI (M) that has 45 seats in the outgoing assembly, CPI (13 seats), NCP (2), Kerala Congress (Democratic), Kerala Congress (Balakrishna Pillai), Kerala Congress (Scaria Thomas), Communist Marxist Party, Indian National League and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (Leninist).
 
The UDF constituents are the Indian National Congress (INC), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Kerala Congress (Mani), Kerala Congress (Jacob), Janata Dal (U), Communist Marxist Party (CP John) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).
 
In the previous assembly polls in 2011, the number of candidates were 971. This time, a total 1647 nominations, including those of 'dummy' candidates as cover for official party candidates, were filed.
 
The total number of constituencies are 140 with general seats numbering 124. Reserved seats for scheduled Castes are 14 and for Scheduled Tribes 2.
 
Despite the sultry summer heat and lack of mid-summer rains, all prominent party leaders had hit the campaign trail. For the UDF, Chief Minister Chandy was the star campaigner, who projected the development work undertaken by his government to seek a second term in office.
 
The LDF had nonagenarian Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan at the helm for campaigning. They have also, for the time being, buried their longstanding differences while leaving the question of who would be the Chief Minister if the LDF comes to power, for later.
 
The LDF sought to project the corruption scandals during the UDF regime that saw allegations being levelled against five ministers leading to the exit of Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) chief KM Mani.
 
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While the UDF may be troubled by the presence of seven rebel candidates, the LDF does not have anyone from its ranks opposing its official candidates. Both Fronts are also relieved to a certain extent by the Election Commission having decided to list the candidates of official parties in alphabetical order followed by the independents. Political parties in Kerala are plagued by the presence of a number of candidates with similar names to the official candidate. This time, confusion could be avoided as the EVMs would also display candidates' photographs alongside their names.
 
The largest number of 145 candidates are in the fray in Malappuram district and the lowest 29 in Vayanadu that has only three constituencies. As many as 1094 male candidates and 109 females are in the contest. The largest number of female candidates are at Thiruvananthapuram (14) and Ernakulam (12) and the lowest in Kasragode (1).
 
The constituency with largest number of candidate is Poonjar in Kottayam district where 17 are in the fray. Two EVMs would be required for each booth in this constituency as a single machine have provision for only 16 names plus NOTA. At 12 polling stations in 10 districts where a new type of voting machine is being used, voters would be able to get a printed slip to confirm that the vote has been recorded.
 
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Campaigning comes to a close in Kerala Assembly elections

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is seeking a second term in the May 16 State Assembly Elections.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is seeking a second term in the May 16 State Assembly Elections.
Campaigning for the keenly-contested May 16 Kerala assembly elections, which have a record number of 1203 candidates in the fray this time, came to a close today.
 
While the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is seeking a second term, the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) aims to recapture power it lost five years ago.
 
The electoral battle for the 140-seat Assembly assumes significance this time due to the presence of a third front comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), Kerala Congress (PC Thomas) and Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samiti (Rajan Babu) trying to end or at least drive a wedge into the bipolar politics of the state.
 
Voters in Kerala had for several decades since the 1960s been electing either the UDF or LDF coalitions which the BJP and allies had been describing as “a cozy arrangement” between the two in promoting corruption forcing the youth to seek jobs in far away lands in the absence of industrial development in the state.
 
Hectic campaigning over the past few weeks saw national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat address several campaign meetings across the state.
 
BJP president Amit Shah, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Smriti Irani had also hit the campaign trail in Kerala.
 
This time, too, the election campaign had a fair share of controversies. Mr Modi's equating the situation in certain tribal areas of Kerala to that of Somalia led Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to demand an apology from the Prime Minister. The outrage had spilled over into the social media, too, with several people posting charts comparing Kerala's excellent development indices with those of Gujarat, where Mr. Modi was Chief Minister for 12 years before he became Prime Minister, which ranks lower on many counts.
 
The shadow of a yet unsolved murder of a young woman, a law student at Perumbavoor was sought to be exploited by the opposition to put the ruling coalition on the dock.
 
The BJP that has never won a seat in the assembly and whose vote share in the previous assembly election was just 6%, hopes to make gains this time with a strategic alliance with the fledgling BDJS, a party formed with the blessings of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) president Vellapally Natesan, who hopes to break away a substantial section of the Ezhava community supporters from the LDF.
 
The BJP is also heartened by the fact that in the October 2015 local bodies election, it managed to not only win seats but also assume control of a few local bodies while improving its vote share to 13.28 %.
 
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The LDF for this election comprises CPI (M) that has 45 seats in the outgoing assembly, CPI (13 seats), NCP (2), Kerala Congress (Democratic), Kerala Congress (Balakrishna Pillai), Kerala Congress (Scaria Thomas), Communist Marxist Party, Indian National League and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (Leninist).
 
The UDF constituents are the Indian National Congress (INC), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Kerala Congress (Mani), Kerala Congress (Jacob), Janata Dal (U), Communist Marxist Party (CP John) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).
 
In the previous assembly polls in 2011, the number of candidates was 971. This time, a total 1647 nominations, including those of 'dummy' candidates as cover for official party candidates, were filed.
 
The total number of constituencies are 140 with general seats numbering 124. Reserved seats for Scheduled Castes are 14 and for Scheduled Tribes 2.
 
Despite the sultry summer heat and lack of mid-summer rains, all prominent party leaders had hit the campaign trail. For the UDF, Chief Minister Chandy was the star campaigner, who projected the development work undertaken by his government to seek a second term in office.
 
The LDF had nonagenarian former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan at the helm for campaigning. The two have also, for the time being, buried their long-standing differences while leaving the question of who would be the Chief Minister, if the LDF comes to power, for later.
 
The LDF sought to project the corruption scandals during the UDF regime that saw allegations being levelled against five ministers leading to the exit of Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) chief K M Mani.
 
While the UDF may be troubled by the presence of seven rebel candidates, the LDF does not have anyone opposing its official candidates. Both Fronts are also relieved to a certain extent by the Election Commission having decided to list the candidates of official parties in alphabetical order followed by the independents. Political parties in Kerala are plagued by the presence of a number of candidates with similar names to the official candidate. This time, confusion could be avoided as the EVMs would also display candidates' photographs alongside their names.
 
The largest number of 145 candidates are in the fray in Malappuram district and the lowest 29 in Vayanadu that has only three constituencies. As many as 1094 male candidates and 109 females are in the contest. The largest number of female candidates are at Thiruvananthapuram (14) and Ernakulam (12) and the lowest in Kasragode (1).
 
The constituency with largest number of candidates is Poonjar in Kottayam district where 17 are in the fray. Two EVMs would be required for each booth in this constituency as a single machine have provision for only 16 names plus NOTA (none of the above). 
 
At 12 polling stations in 10 districts, voters would be able to get a printed slip to confirm that the vote has been recorded.
 
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Record number of 1203 candidates in Kerala Assembly elections

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A record number of 1203 candidates were left in the fray for the May 16 elections to the Kerala Legislative Assembly as the last day for withdrawal of candidature ended yesterday.
 
In the previous assembly polls in 2011, the number of candidates was 971. This time, a total 1647 nominations, including those of 'dummy' candidates as cover for official party candidates, were filed.
 
The electoral battle for the 140-seat Assembly assumes significance this time due to the presence of a third front comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), Kerala Congress (PC Thomas) and Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samiti (Rajan Babu) trying to end or at least drive a wedge into the bipolar politics of the state that has seen the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Communist Party of India (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) coming to power every five years alternatively.
 
The BJP that has never won a seat in the assembly and whose vote share in the previous assembly election was just 6%, hopes to make gains this time with a strategic alliance with the fledgling BDJS, a party formed with the blessings of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) president Vellapally Natesan, who hopes to break away a substantial section of the Ezhava community supporters from the LDF.
 
The BJP is also heartened by the fact that in the October 2015 local bodies elections, it managed to not only win seats but also assume control of a few local bodies while improving its vote share to 13.28 %.
 
The LDF for this election comprises CPI (M) that has 45 seats in the outgoing assembly, CPI (13 seats), NCP (2), Kerala Congress (Democratic), Kerala Congress (Balakrishna Pillai), Kerala Congress (Scaria Thomas), Communist Marxist Party, Indian National League and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (Leninist).
 
The UDF constituents are the Indian National Congress (INC), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Kerala Congress (Mani), Kerala Congress (Jacob), Janata Dal (U), Communist Marxist Party (CP John) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).
 
The total number of constituencies are 140 with general seats numbering 124. Reserved seats for scheduled Castes are 14 and for Scheduled Tribes 2.
 
Despite the sultry summer heat and lack of mid-summer rains, all prominent party leaders have hit the campaign trail. For the UDF, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is the star campaigner, who is projecting the development work undertaken by his government to seek a second term in office. The LDF has nonagenarian former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan at the helm for campaigning. They have also, for the time being, buried their longstanding differences while leaving the question of who would be the Chief Minister if the LDF comes to power, for later.
 
The LDF is seeking to project the corruption scandals during the UDF regime that saw allegations being levelled against five ministers leading to the exit of Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) chief KM Mani. The BJP-led third front is promising to take the state on the path of development that has been blocked by the two fronts.
 
While the UDF may be troubled by the presence of seven rebel candidates, the LDF does not have anyone opposing its official candidates. Both Fronts are also relieved to a certain extent by the Election Commission having decided to list the candidates of official parties in alphabetical order followed by the independents. Political parties in Kerala are plagued by the presence of a number of candidates with similar names to the official candidate. This time, confusion could be avoided as the EVMs would also display candidates' photographs alongside their names.
 
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The largest number of 145 candidates are in the fray in Malappuram district and the lowest 29 in Vayanadu that has only three constituencies. As many as 1094 male candidates and 109 females are in the contest. The largest number of female candidates are at Thiruvananthapuram (14) and Ernakulam (12) and the lowest in Kasragode (1).
 
The constituency with largest number of candidates is Poonjar in Kottayam district where 17 are in the fray. Two EVMs would be required for each booth in this constituency as a single machine has provision for only 16 names plus NOTA. At 12 polling stations in 10 districts, voters would be able to get a printed slip to confirm that the vote has been recorded.
 
Meanwhile, the state would witness campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 6, 8 and 12 while Congress president Sonia Gandhi will be in Kerala on May 9. CPI (M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat have already started addressing campaign meetings.
 
Mr Modi is scheduled to address meetings in Palakad on May 6, Thiuvananthapuram on May 8 and at Kasaragod, Edathva and Tripunithura on May 12. Ms Gandhi will campaign in Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram on May 9 while Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address rallies on May 11 at Neyyatinkara, Nedumkandam, Kayamkulam and the next day at Angkamali, Pattambi, Kutyadi-Nadapuram and Purameri.
 
BJP president Amit Shah will address meetings in Ranni, Kanjirapalli, Paravur and Aluwa. Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Smriti Irani are also expected to campaign in Kerala.
 
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Kerala: Temple committee members arrested, High Court passes strictures against fireworks display

 
7 officials surrender in Kollam temple inferno case
Two days after a massive explosion during a fireworks display at the Puttingal Devi temple at Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala left at least 116 people dead and more than 380 injured, the police arrested 13 people including seven office bearers of the temple while the Kerala High Court today passed severe strictures to control the use of high decibel fireworks at night.
 
While five of the temple committee, including its president PS Jayalal, Secretary Krishnankutty Pillai, J Prasad, Somasundram Pillai and Ravindran Pillai had surrendered last night, another office bearer, Surendran Pillai was arrested in the morning.
 
Severely criticising the police and local administration in allowing the fireworks display to go ahead without obtaining proper permission, the High Court said that, even during daytime, fireworks display should not exceed 140 decibels. The court also directed the local administration and the police to submit separate affidavits on the incident.
 
The court said fireworks displays should be held only after following all safety precautions and there should be no outside interference in granting of license.
 
A division bench headed by Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, taking up a letter from Justice Chidambaresh as a PIL also included the Union Government and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as respondents in the case.   
 
Meanwhile, one of the contractors who supplied the fireworks, Surendran, 67, from Kazhakuttam, Thiruvananathapuram, who had sustained 90% burn injuries, died in a hospital today. His son Umesh, 35, who was also admitted to hospital, was discharged after treatment. Police said his second son Deepu, 33, had gone missing from the hospital. Earlier, authorities had filed cases against Surendran and his sons for possession of explosives without authorisation. His license had also expired on March 31 and he had applied for conducting the fireworks display at Puttingal temple concealing this fact, police said.
 
In another development, Additional Director General of Police Anantha Krishnan, heading the crime branch investigation into the mishap, said the fireworks competition was held after misleading the local administration which had denied permission earlier. The temple committee claimed that verbal permission was granted on informing them that it would only be a fireworks display.
 
Paravur police had charged around 30 people including the temple committee members, the contractors of the fireworks display and his workers under charges of culpable homicide. Five employees of the fireworks contractor Surendran are already in police custody.
 
Meanwhile, DNA tests will be conducted on unclaimed bodies while 21 people were still missing after the mishap. Their family members have been asked to reach Kollam for the tests till tomorrow with identity proof of the missing persons.
 
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Kerala govt. provides free land for former state hockey player Sakuntala

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The Kerala government has issued orders to make available 3 cents of land for construction of a house to former state hockey player Sakuntala.
 
An official press release said the land would be given free of cost at Pazhayakunnumel village in Chirayankil taluk.
 
Sakuntala was the vice captain of the state hockey team in 1978 and was also a member of the Kerala hockey team that won the sub- junior championship in 1976 in Gwalior. 
 
"The land has been issued as she is a sportsperson who performed excellently for the state and  also falls under the income limit as prescribed by the laws," the release added.
 
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Kerala govt. to take up 20 major road works at cost of Rs. 2680 crore

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The Kerala Cabinet yesterday decided to develop 20 major roads, covering all 14 districts of the state, using funds from the one rupee cess imposed on sale of petrol and diesel in the 2015-16 State Budget.
 
Briefing mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, "Fifty paise of the cess levied from April 2015 onwards will be utilized for the construction of 20 major roads in two financial years. A total of Rs 2680 crore will be given for the purpose."
 
He said works of ten roads at an expense of Rs. 1619 crore would be undertaken in the current financial year and that of the next ten roads, at an expense of Rs 1060 crore, in the next financial year. 
 
The chief minister also said that all procedures had been completed for starting the works of the first ten and administrative sanction given for the second set of ten roads.
 
An official press release said the ten roads on which work would commence this financial year are: Pravachambalam-Vazhimukku (6.5 km four-lane); 2nd reach of Karamana-Kaliyikkavila road); Hill highway - Cherupuzha-Payyavur-Ulickal-Vallithod (59.415 km); Hill highway - Nandarapadavu-Cherupuzha (33 km); Nadukani-Vazhikadavu-Nilambur-Edavanna-Manjery-Malappuram-Vengara-Thiroorangadi-Parappanangadi (90 km); Construction of Valiya Azheekkal bridge (across Kayamkulam lake connecting Kollam and Alappuzha districts); Construction of Kodimatha-Manarcaud by-pass; phase 1 Vytilla flyover; Kundanoor flyover; Thondayad flyover; and Ramanattukara flyover.
 
The ten roads for which administrative sanction had been given, for works beginning in the next financial years, are: Chavara KMML junction-Kuttivattom-Arinalloor-Padappanal-Karalimukku-Kadapuzha-Kundara IT park-Kottiyam road reconstruction (32 km); Kuruthikkalam-Velliyammattam-Thodupuzha-Njarukutti-Vannapuram-Cheruthoni road; Palakkad link by-pass; Kuttippuram engineering college-Shoranur road (including Pattambi bridge); Mananchira-Vellimadukunnu, four-lane road development (3.4 km); Enath-Ezhamkulam-Chandanappally-Vallikkodu-Vakayar-Konni-Thannithodu-Chittar-Anamuzhi-Plappally (75 km); Pulleppady-Thammanam Chakkaraparambu (NH by-pass 3.245 km); Padinjarekotta flyover; Choondal-Guruvayoor-Chavakkad four-lane road development (11.5 km); and Sulthan Batery by-pass (N.H. 212) 5 km;
 
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Kerala Cabinet approves 'House-To-All' to provide 1.72 lakh houses

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The Kerala Cabinet today approved an ambitious "House-To-Al" project under which the state government proposes to provide 1.72 lakh houses to the landless and others belonging to below poverty level (BPL) and low-income families.
 
An official press release said the project would be implemented in three stages: multi-storeyed apartments will be built for 75,000 families in the landless and BPL categories; housing loans with interest subsidy to 75,000 families having own land and belonging to BPL category; and 22,000 houses, at the rate of one house in one ward, to extremely poor people under various local self-government bodies.
 
In the first phase of the project, 7000 houses, each costing Rs 4 lakh and of 60 sq m area will be built for those with own land and belonging to the BPL category. Subsidy will be given to the entire amount, including the principal and interest.
 
Also, 22,000 houses will be built in the first phase of the project itself, the expense of which will be shared equally by the local self-government bodies and the state government. 
 
Priority will be given to families under the M. N. Housing Scheme, whose houses are in a dilapidated condition, applicants who have sought for houses at chief minister's mass-contact programme and to those who were found to be landless under the 'zero landless' project.
 
The first phase of the project will be implemented by the Housing Board. For the implementation of works in the later stages, housing society and district-level housing societies will be formed, the release added.
 
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Rajnath says Kerala's Student Police Cadet Programme to be replicated at national level

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh watching
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh watching "Vandee Bharat Matharam"- a visual presentation by Student Police Cadets at the anniversary celebrations of the Student Cadet Scheme of Kerala government, in Thiruvananthapuram on January 27, 2016.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said his Ministry was exploring the possibility of expanding the Student Police Cadet (SPC) Programme, a school based capacity development initiative of the Kerala Police, at the national level. 
 
Inaugurating the 'India First-Annual Day Celebration of the SPC Programme here, Mr. Singh noted that the programme provided for a comprehensive development of the child, something on which the Centre had been keenly focusing. 
 
The Minister pointed out that inculcating values, skills, and attributes necessary to function as successful citizens in today’s fast-changing, globalising and competitive world was critical. At the same time, strengthening the good Indian values of universal brotherhood, patriotism, truth, and the ability to place the community or the country’s interest above that of one’s own is very important, he said.
 
Mr. Singh said that his vision for the youth of India was that they would have the best of opportunities in the world to express their talents and realize their dreams. They are truly empowered to lead this country and the world with confidence and grace, he said.
 
He said it shall be the endeavour of the Government to ensure that the youth were provided with the best of opportunities. 
 
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb were among those present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Singh also inaugurated a National Community Policing Conclave at Kovalam near here, where he called upon the police force to make use of technology and smartly as an instrument of peace as well as a force multiplier.
 
He said that social media could tremendously empower the police in fostering police-community relationship, taking it to new heights of communication and building of trust between the police and the people. He however cautioned that the use of social media by the security personnel needed to be done in a controlled and disciplined manner. 
 
The Minister said that, while community policing should be the guiding principle of police forces, prime focus should be given to building relationships.
 
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The police need to work hard every day to earn that level of trust and respect which helps them in bridging the gap between police and public, he added. 
 
Stating that police force should act in close association with the community, the Union Home Minister said that community policing system should be institutionalised in the police force across the country in an effort to bridge the gap between the law enforcing agencies and the public. The efficacy of any police force lies in its relationship and engagement with the local community. 
 
He noted that internet and social media had completely changed the way policing was done in the country. 
 
Mr. Chennithala said the community policing initiatives of the state government had helped to reduce the crime rate in the state.
 
The theme of this year’s conclave is “Smart Connect”. The two day conclave will deliberate and come out with concrete recommendations and guidelines for policy making with regard to community policing as an effective tool to combat radicalization, human trafficking, Left-wing extremist issues and enhancing coastal security. It also focuses on smart initiatives in community policing and community policing as a core policing strategy. 
 
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Rajnath Singh to visit Kerala on Wedesday

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will pay a one-day visit to Kerala tomorrow, during which he will attend a national seminar on Community Policing in Thiruvananthapuram.
 
He will also inaugurate Student Police Cadet Day Celebrations - 2016 at Jimmy George Indoor Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, an official press release added.
 
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Kerala Cabinet gives nod for preliminary works of JLN Stadium-Kakkanad metro line in Kochi

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The Kerala Cabinet today decided to give administrative sanction of Rs. 189 crore for the preliminary works of the Kochi Metro line from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Kakkanad via Infopark in Kochi, expecting the sanction of the Central Government. 
 
The length of this new line will be 11 km. The extended new line is meant for improving the financial stability and efficiency of Kochi Metro, an official press release said.
 
The major works include repair of certain roads, widening and land acquisition required for these purposes.
 
"If such steps are not taken prior to commencement of work, it would result in traffic congestion. Administrative sanction of Rs 2024 crore was given earlier for the construction of the new metro line from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Kakkanad via Infopark," the release added.
 
Kochi Metro sources said that today's decision meant that road widening and other preparatory work can start for the project.
 
To enable Metro construction, the road along the alignment should be widened and utilities to be shifted to a duct. As many as 3.85 acres of  land will have to be acquired to widen the existing road to  22 metres along the corridor.
 
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Ansari calls for discussion on Nehruvian legacy of secularism

Vice President M. Hamid Ansari releasing the book 'Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian polity in perspective', in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on January 12, 2016. Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church are also seen.
Vice President M. Hamid Ansari releasing the book 'Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian polity in perspective', in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on January 12, 2016. Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church are also seen.
Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has called for a discussion of Nehruvian legacy of secularism as an instrument of national integration at a time of dangers arising from superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism.
 
Addressing a gathering after releasing the book 'Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian Polity in Perspective', edited by Prof (Dr) PJ Alexander, here yesterday, he said the firm anchoring of secularism as the core character of Indian polity remained one of the most important contributions of Nehru.
 
“This discussion is required, particularly in the backdrop of the dangers from religious superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism at the present moment.
 
“To examine the Nehruvian legacy is to renew our fight against religious deformations in thought and practice, which disorient the consciousness of the people, which impede the realization of the secular ideal, which thwart the pursuit of national self-reliance and of a just society, he added.
 
Nehru’s exposition of secularism did not mean an absence of religion, but putting religion on a different plane from that of normal political and social life. It was firmly rooted in affirmation of social and political equality, Mr Ansari said.
 
He said Nehru believed that in a country like India, which has many faiths and religions, no real nationalism could be built except on the basis of secularity. Any narrower approach “must exclude a section of the population and then nationalism itself will have a restricted meaning than it should possess,” he added.
 
A leader and shaper of the Freedom Movement that won India its freedom, Pandit Nehru spent nine-and-a-half-years in British prisons, a period longer than Gandhiji, Sardar Patel, Rajaji or Jaiprakash Narayan, the Vice President said. 
 
The dust of time may have blurred the picture for those who are coming of age now, but Jawaharlal Nehru enjoyed a connect with the masses of India, a popularity that any political leader today would be envious of. Nehru loved India, and the people of India loved him in return. Eyewitness stories about how India’s masses, rural and urban, adored Nehru are simply too many to recount, he said.
 
The eight-point resolution regarding aims and objectives, which was moved by Pandit Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on 13th December, 1946 set the tone for the Constitution drafting process and cast the basic features of the Constitution, he recalled.
 
Mr. Ansari said Nehru was also a visionary of a modern India and played a major role in establishing a modern scientific and technological infrastructure and strove to promote scientific temper. He oversaw the establishment of many institutions of higher education, including the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the National Institutes of Technology (NIT).
 
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Nehru envisioned the use of nuclear energy beyond its use in weapons and established the Atomic Energy Commission of India (AEC) in 1948. Over 45 Central laboratories in different fields of science were launched during his time. He was also responsible for initiating the first steps to launch India into the electronics and space era.
 
Mr. Ansari said that, for Nehru, the development of science and technology was not an abstract notion or a means to military power. For him science was essential for building a modern India. It was to be a tool to eradicate poverty and want, an instrument of eliminating inequality and building a just society. The scientific approach was to be the attitude of all Indians in their social interactions, he said.
 
“Today, as we proudly enumerate the technical and scientific prowess of our nation, we but acknowledge that the countdown to the launch of the Mars orbiter started with Jawaharlal Nehru,” he said. 
 
He said the book, edited by Prof. Alexander with contributions from eminent persons like Justice K T Thomas, Dr. Rajan Kurukkal, Dr. B. Vivekanandan, Mr. M G Radhakrishnan and others, on Nehru’s role in shaping the polity of modern India was timely.
 
"As one of the titans of the national movement and the first Prime Minister and architect of modern India, his dynamic and towering leadership and progressive ideas richly deserve to be recalled and evaluated. Nehru’s services were many sided and the book should be of interest every Indian," he added.
 
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Ansari lauds last Maharaja of Travancore as “architect of modern Kerala”

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Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has lauded Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last Maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, as an architect of modern-day Kerala.
 
The Maharaja, popularly known as Sree Chithira Thirunal, had carried out a set of Constitutinal reforms in 1932, forming the first Bicameral Legislature and willingly agreeing to reduce some of his political powers, the Vice-President said in his address at the Sree Chithira Thirunal Award ceremony here yesterday.
 
Conferring the award upon former career diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan, Mr Ansari said that, since his superannuation, Mr Sreenivasan had become intensively involved in the public life in Kerala.
 
The Vice-President, in his speech, noted that Sree Chithira Thirunal had “enacted the now famous Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936, established the University of Travancore (now the University of Kerala) in 1937 and is credited with allocating a substantial share of the State’s revenue towards furthering education.
 
The Maharaja also oversaw the creation of several public services like road transport department, power generation projects and irrigation schemes, Mr Ansari said.
 
Among the socal reforms initiated during his reign were several progressive measures including those dealing with Hindu Widows Remarriage, Child Marriage Restraint, Suppression of Immoral Traffic, Maternity Benefits aimed at the betterment of women and children and codifying succession norms.
 
He is also credited with start of industrialization in the state by utilizing the local raw materials such as rubber, ceramics and minerals.
 
“The foundation of Sree Chitra Art Gallery, which features a unique collection of traditional and contemporary Indian paintings, and Sri Swathi Thirunal Music Academy, since renamed as Sree Swathi Thirunal College of Music in 1962, bear witness to his passion for arts and music,” the Vice President said.
 
Referring to Mr Sreenivasan, Mr Ansari said, “My joy is compounded as the recipient is also a member of my own tribe of the Indian Foreign Service, where he made a distinguished career for 37 years.”
 
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Mr Sreenivasan served as India’s Permanent Representative in Vienna and Governor for India of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He was Ambassador to Austria and Fiji and High Commissioner to Kenya. He has also served in various capacities in New Delhi, Washington, New York, Tokyo, Thimphu and Yangon.
 
The Vice-President noted that since his superannuation, Mr Sreenivasan had become intensively involved in the public life in Kerala. He continued his passion for education by serving as the Vice-Chairman and Executive Head of the Kerala State Higher Education Council with the rank of Vice-Chancellor.
 
A Visiting Fellow on Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, Washington in 2009, he has also been writing and lecturing widely on a variety of issues, prominently on Foreign policy related topics.
 
Mr Sreenivasan has authored four books. He also anchors the popular programme 'Videsa Vicharam' that aims at making the “rarified domains of foreign policy and diplomatic dealings” more accessible to the general public.
 
“The award is an apt recognition of his multi-faceted talents and years of public service,” the Vice-President said.
 
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Kerala govt. to provide Rs. 50 lakh as solatium for Lt. Col. Niranjan Kumar's family

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The Kerala Cabinet today decided that the state government would provide full care to the family of Lt. Col. Niranjan Kumar, the National Security Guard (NSG) officer who was killed in the terrorist attack of the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab.
 
An official press release said the government had decided to provide his family with Rs 50 lakhs as solatium and a government job to his wife. The educational expense of his daughter will be borne by the government, it said.
 
In honour of the departed soldier, the ITI at Elambulassery in Palakkad and the Palakkad Medical College stadium that is nearing completion will be named after him. 
 
It has also been decided to sanction Rs 4 crore for the renovation of the 10 km road from Ponnamkodu to Elambulassery in the native place of Lt Col Niranjan Kumar, the release added.
 
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IndiGo announces 24 new flights, including direct Delhi-Trivandrum service

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced plans for 24 new flights between cities in the country as part of its new schedule.
 
A press release from the airline said that, effective January 7, it would launch 12 flights connecting Delhi to Trivandrum, Bengaluru to Vishakhapatnam, Bengaluru to Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad to Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata and Chennai to Trivandrum. 
 
With effect from January 14, IndiGo will launch its sixth daily non-stop flight between Chennai and Hyderabad. 
 
The airline will introduce ten flights on January 15 connecting Bengaluru to Kolkata,  Delhi to Ahmedabad, Delhi to Bengaluru, Delhi to Kolkata and Hyderabad to Mumbai, it said.
 
Mr. Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo said, “It gives me immense pleasure in announcing new non-stop flight between Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi. People of Kerala can now fly direct into the capital city Delhi with convenient timings and affordable fares."
 
"In addition, the new frequencies connecting the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Vishakhapatnam and Ahmedabad will offer much improved connectivity and choice across the IndiGo network. We will continue to expand our network to meet the requirements of our business and leisure travelers wherever they demand it. We are determined to provide the best travel experience to everyone who flies with IndiGo, as we continue to offer them on-time, hassle free and an always affordable flying experience," he added.
 
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