Veteran Communist leader and former State secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Veliyam Bhargavan died here on Wednesday. He was 85.
Mr. Bhargavan, who had been ailing for sometime now, was admitted to the government medical college hospital here with acute breathing trouble on Tuesday. His condition took a turn for the worse by Wednesday morning. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reached the hospital around noon on being informed of the veteran leader’s critical condition. ‘Aasaan,’ as he was fondly called by party workers and those who knew him closely, breathed his last at 1.05 p.m.
Born in 1928 at Veliyam in Kollam district, Mr. Bhargavan was one of the architects of coalition politics in Kerala, which led, after the Emergency, to the formation of the Left Democratic Front (LDF). He was elected twice to the Kerala Assembly, in 1957 and 1960, but did not contest any election after that. A man of steely resolve, he was State secretary of the CPI from 1998 to 2010, and is currently a member of the CPI national council. He has been playing only a limited role in party affairs for nearly a year now owing to indifferent health, but has been attending public functions occasionally till his health deteriorated.
Ministers, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, and leaders of various political parties made a beeline for the medical college hospital and later his home at Pattom in the city on learning about his death. Mr. Bhargavan’s body will be kept at his residence at Pattom in the city and taken to the M.N. Smarakam, State headquarters of the CPI, at 8 a.m. on Thursday. It will be kept there for public viewing through the day and cremated with official honours at 4 p.m., bringing the curtain down on a life of struggle and firm-fisted leadership.