Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan has pulled out of the upcoming Assembly polls and his number two Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is selected as the representative who will lead the election campaign of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

 According to the party, the decision to drop the 87-year-old leader from the list of candidates for the April 13 elections was taken at a four-hour meeting of the CPI-M state secretariat.

Emerging from the meeting, Achuthanandan refused to answer any questions and said, "Those responsible for briefing this will let you know.”

CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, an arch rival of Achuthanandan's, will also not contest the polls, sources said. The decisions will have to be approved by the 81-member state committee.

The party secretariat has decided that Balakrishnan will contest from Thalassery seat in Kannur district. In 2006, Achuthanandan was denied a party ticket but following a huge public outcry, the national leadership had to reverse its decision. He led the Left Front's poll campaign and went on to become the Chief Minister.

Reacting to the development, veteran Congress leader Aryadan Mohammed said it is immaterial to the Opposition if Achuthanandan contests or not.

(Agencies)