Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan dashing off a letter to the External Affairs Ministry seeking its intervention after the convenor of BDJS, a partner of BJP-led NDA, Thushar Vellappally, was arrested in a cheque fraud case in the UAE throws up questions of the lack of moral and political responsibilities of both the Left Democratic Front Government and Pinarayi, forget his party CPM.
If it were a political move to outsmart the BJP, it has been a major tragedy. Thushar was the NDA candidate pitted against the then Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad during the recent Lok Sabha election. All eyes were on Wayanad as Rahul, it appeared imminent, would bite the dust in Amethi, the other constituency he was contesting from.
Thushar is the son of SNDP chairman Vellappally Natesan and had stood by the CPM and its LDF during the much-touted Woman Wall for `rekindling the spirit of renaissance’ at the start of this year.
When the LDF fought the Lok Sabha election, its plank was `vote out Modi and his BJP’. And certainly Thushar was the enemy number one. But defying all political logic, Pinarayi wrote, not spoke over the phone, to the External Affairs Ministry. He might have craftly worded his letter: “News Channels have reported the arrest of Shri Thushar Vellappally, vice-president of SNDP Yogam, at Ajman in United Arab Emirates. I express concern about his well-being and health while in custody. All possible help within the limits of law needs to be made available to him. I request your kind personal attention and intervention in this regard.”
Pinarayi would not have dashed off the letter simply because he saw the report on TV channels. The Kairali channel, supposedly run by his party, has a weekly programme `Pravasalokam’ that reels out the travails and hardships of expatriates in the Gulf. There have been sordid tales, genuine ones and watching that he would have time only to send letters.
If the arrest of Thushar `shocked’ Pinarayi, did he not have any feeling for Thrissur native Nazil Abdullah, now based in Ajman, who was given a cheque of 10 million Dirhams (around Rs 20 crore) by Thushar around 10 years ago? Nizil languished in jail for two years when Thushar was put in jail for just two days. Nazil was a subcontractor of Vellappally Natesan's construction firm in Ajman. After the company went into a big loss, Natesan sold it off 10 years ago. Nazil was given a cheque for 10 million dirhams with no date on it which has now been dishonoured. The trauma that Nazil had to undergo, that his family had to sell their property in Thrissur to clear debts, nothing moved Pinarayi.
If reports are true, Nazil also contacted top guns of BJP who simply washed their hands of this fraud and politely refused to intervene for the convenor of their front partner.
Incidentally, Thushar's is not the first case of a cheque fraud, especially when the slowdown has seen many Keralites land in jails.
Thushar is out on bail, supported by the businessman MA Yusuff Ali, which he (Thushar) himself acknowledged. And worse still, he has said that he will, when he returns to India, personally go and thank Pinarayi.
Questions of what political gains the party has made by going out of the way to stand with an accused, who was ditched by his own front partners is something the party and Pinarayi have to answer. This becomes relevant when the party state committee just a day ago felt that it was getting alienated from the people.
There is reason to suspect that the letter, instead of a phone call (even that was uncalled for), appears to have come from duress from within or even outside the country.
Nothing even moved Pinarayi when a nun (Sr Lucy Kalapura) from Wayanad, expelled from her congregation for voicing a demand that a bishop accused of raping a nun be arrested, was locked in her convent and the police had to come and open the gates. If it were not for hurting a vote bank that he decided to stay unmoved and mum in the case of a nun which vote bank does he expect to cater to by standing for someone accused in a cheque fraud case.
Even when the BJP refused to act, Pinarayi proved to be a more loyal to the NDA man. And his comrades have been going around justifying him with arguments like Thushar was arrested when he had gone to the UAE for some other meeting. And if Pinarayi and at least some of his comrades justifying him feel that people will digest it, they are simply wrong. There needs to be a rethink as they are unsure of where they are taking the party to. The Chief Minister is not just a party leader as he represents the people of the State. He simply cannot act on his whims and fancies when his party that knows not where it is bound can do so.