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Arackaparambil Kurien Antony is a renowned politician from Kerala. Since his entry into politics, he has been able to maintain a clean image for himself. For three times, Antony was the Chief Minister of Kerala. Currently, he is the member of Rajya Sabha and the honorable Minister of Defense in the Government of India. At the national level, Antony is holding other important positions also. He presently serves as the Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute, and President of Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis. At the organizational level, Antony is also the Chairman of Disciplinary Committee of the All India Congress Committee. As an honorable member of Congress core group, he is involved in the deliberations of the Central Election Committee and the Congress Working Committee. Being a senior member of the cabinet, Antony is also on committees dealing with Accommodation, Political Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs, Economic Affairs and Security.
Being a man of principles, Antony wanted to lead a corruption-free and simple life to lead the people by setting an example. Whenever he was in power, A.K. Antony tried to do something to stop the corruption in the department under him. This enabled him to cultivate a clean image for himself in public life. In fact, he was ranked amongst the top ten most powerful and cleanest politicians in the country by Indian Express, a newspaper of repute in India with good circulation.
Early Life and Education
A.K. Antony was born as the son of Arackaparambil Kurien Pillai and Alleykutty Kurien. His place of birth is Cherthala in the Aleppey district of Central Kerala. Since he lost his father early in his life, young Antony had to find the money to finance his own education. He completed his formal education from Holy Family High School and Government Boys High School in Cherthala. Later, A.K. Antony completed a degree course from the Maharaja's College in Ernakulam district of Kerala. After some years, he also completed a Bachelor of Law course from University of Kerala. A.K. Antony is married to Elizabeth. In their marriage, they have two sons. The first son is a graduate from Stanford University and the second one is a graduate from New Delhi-based St. Stephens College.
Early Political Career
A.K. Antony entered into the politics through his activity in Kerala Students Union (KSU), a student wing of Indian National Congress. He learned the art of Politics under the guidance of M.A. John. Later, A.K. Antony rose through the hierarchy of the student's wing of the Congress party to become its Youth President. After a brief stint in KSU as its Youth President, he was given a membership in the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) in 1972. At that time, A.K. Antony was the youngest member of the KPCC. After becoming an active member of KPCC, his activities were noticed by the high command of the Congress party. As a result of this recognition, Antony was brought to the national level as the member of All India Congress Committee (AICC) in the year 1984. After a brief stint of 3 years in AICC, he was brought back to the state as KPCC President to avoid the conflict of interests in the Pradesh Congress Committee elections in 1987.
Positions Held at State Level
Accidentally, A.K. Antony was elevated to the highest office of the state for the first time. In 1978, K. Karunakaran had to relinquish the Chief Minister's office in the midst of the accusations against him in infamous Rajan case. At that point in time, A.K. Antony was selected for the coveted post, replacing K. Karunakaran. He remained in the power for about a year. On another occasion, again he was brought back to the state level for heading the Congress government in 1995. This time also K. Karunakaran had to resign from the Chief Minister's post due to his alleged involvement in ISRO espionage case. This time also Antony headed the state government for about a year. For the third time, when he was elected as the leader of the Congress parliamentary party, he ruled the state for three years. This time also he could not hold on to the power due to the rivalry between two dominant groups in the party.
Positions Held at National Level
Initially, A.K. Antony was the member of Rajya Sabha from 1985 to 1995. While serving as a Rajya Sabha member during that time, he was first made the Cabinet Minister in charge of Civil Supplies, and Public Distribution in P.V. Narasimha Rao government. Later, after one year, Antony resigned as the Cabinet Minister owning the moral responsibility for his own ministry's involvement in sugar import scam. Later in 2005, he was again asked to take up the job of the Cabinet Minister. This time A.K. Antony was given the responsibility of running the Defense Ministry when the Natwar Singh was expelled from the Congress party and Pranab Mukherjee was transferred to the Ministry of External Affairs. When the UPA led by Congress came back to power in 2009, the mantle of looking after the Defense Ministry was given back to him again. Thus, he became the longest serving Defense Minister of the country.
A.K. Antony is a corruption-free politician with a clean image. Due to this nature, he is able to mingle with all the members of the society, even with his political rivals. In the Congress party, he is above inter-group rivalry. As an individual, he believed in principles and never tolerated the corruption. Because of these qualities, many political posts came to him. He was the Chief Minister of the state four times. At the national level, he occupied both government and organizational positions. Being a man of principles, he was asked to handle the Disciplinary Committee and Central Election Committee of the Congress party.