Party sources said the decision was taken at a meeting of the State Secretariat here in the presence of party leaders Sitaram Yechury as well as Prakash Karat who flew in from New Delhi.

The selection of Vijayan, 72, was conveyed to his long-time foe within the party, former chief minister VS Achuthanandan. An official announcement is expected to be made later in the day.

Sources in the Communist Party of India-Marxist said Achuthanandan heard about the decision and left the party headquarters for his official residence. One source said Achuthanandan did not seem happy as he had expected at least a short stint as chief minister before making way to Vijayan.

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