Kerala Congress (B) chairman R Balakrishna Pillai dead

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(EDS: Adding more details) Kollam (Kerala), May 3 (PTI): R Balakrishna Pillai, former minister and one of the founders of the Kerala Congress in 1964, died at a private hospital in his hometown of Kottarakkara on Monday due to age-related ailments, his family said.

He was 86.

Pillai was cremated with full state honours on the premises of his residence Valakom near Kottarakkara in the evening.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, BJP state president K Surendran, NSS general secretary G Sukuaran Nair and Syro Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry condoled the death of the veteran leader.

Born in a wealthy family in Kottarakkara, Pillai entered politics during his student days.

He was a member of the Students Federation before joining the Congress.

He was a member of the AICC from 1958 to 1964.

Having been elected to the Assembly in 1960 from the Pathanapuram seat at the age of 25, Pillai quit the Congress in 1964 and formed the Kerala Congress along with senior leader K M George.

Pillai was the founder-general secretary of the Kerala Congress which has a continuing trend of splitting, merging and splitting again in the State's politics.

He won the election from his home constituency of Kottarakara in 1965, but was defeated in the next two polls in 1967 and 1970.

Pillai was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971 from the Mavelikara constituency.

He formed the Kerala Congress (B) in 1977 due to his differences with another Kerala Congress stalwart K M Mani after the death of K M George.

The Kerala Congress (B) was a constituent of the CPI (M)-led LDF on formation.

Pillai, who was one of the architects of the United Democratic Front (UDF),was elected to the Assembly in various terms from Kottarakkara till he was defeated in 2006.

He was a minister for several years in various ministries headed by C Achutha Menon, K Karunakaran, E K Nayanar and A K Antony.

He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Nair Service Society (NSS).

Pillai's over six-decade-long political career saw many ups and downs.

He had to resign from the ministry for his speech in the 1980s in which he had called for an agitation on the lines of the militancy in Punjab against the central government for ignoring Kerala's developmental needs.

He was the first minister in Kerala who was sentenced to jail for corruption.

The Supreme Court had in February 2011 sentenced Pillai and two others to one-year imprisonment for allegedly abusing their positions in the award of a contract for the Idamalayar hydroelectric power project during his tenure as power minister from 1982-1985 in the K Karunakaran ministry.

He left the Congress-led UDF in 2018.

He had been serving as the chairman of the Kerala State Welfare Corporation for Forward Communities, with cabinet rank.

Pillai is survived by three children.

His son Ganesh Kumar, who is also a former minister, was re-elected to the Kerala Assembly as an LDF candidate from his family bastion Pathanapuram. PTI TGB NVG NVG