Accepting MM News award, he says he is a campaigner for people's issues
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said that he is a campaigner for issues that affect the lives of people and not a newsmaker.
"It is the media that create news. All that I do is to highlight the problems of the masses and take steps that would mitigate their hardships," Mr. Achuthanandan said after receiving the Manorama News Newsmaker 2006 award at Kanakakkunnu Palace here on Thursday evening. "I am neither elated nor excited about this award. Malayala Manorama has strongly opposed me, my party and our struggles, including the movement against reclamation of paddy fields, because we are poles apart in our class perceptions," he said.
Mr. Achuthanandan said his attempt both when in Opposition and in Government had been to find solutions to the burning problems of the people and to put an end to exploitation and sharp inequalities in society. He would be happy if the recognition bestowed on him would help take Left politics forward, he added.
Delivering the keynote address, The Hindu Editor-in-Chief N. Ram said it was not surprising that Mr. Achuthanandan got ahead of Sreesanth, cricket star, G. Madhavan Nair, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and Shashi Tharoor, who came very close to becoming the U.N. Secretary-General, among others, because he had been known for his honesty and integrity, his unflinching commitment to the fight against corruption, his commitment to the cause of environment and the way he stood out in the campaign for the Assembly elections in early 2006.
Achievements of State
Listing Kerala's achievements in improving the quality of life of the people, Mr. Ram pointed out that with its low infant mortality rate, high life expectancy and almost zero drop-out rate at the primary school level, Kerala stood alongside the developed West. "Kerala's achievements have their roots in its history of struggles. VS, as Mr. Achuthanandan is fondly called, has a hands-on involvement in this," he said.
Mr. Ram said he was happy to note that the Smart City project was being renegotiated on terms that were acceptable to the people and taking into account the larger interests of society. "This is a man who knows what is the balance to be struck because he is a man of the people. Development without social opportunities is of no use," he said. Kerala cannot rest on its achievements. The State must move forward boldly and there is nobody more qualified than Mr. Achuthanandan to lead the State. Expectations are very high and therefore your performance will be watched more closely, "very much like Sachin Tendulkar going out to bat," Mr. Ram said.
Federal Bank chairman M. Venugopalan offered felicitations. MMTV managing director Jacob Mathew presented the award to Mr. Achuthanandan. Manorama News director Johny Lukose proposed a vote of thanks. Among those present to witness the award presentation were Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran, filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Chief Secretary Lizzie Jacob, leaders of political parties, senior bureaucrats and people drawn from different media organisations and other walks of life.