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P C Punnen
P C Punnen
In My View

The die is cast

P.C. Punnen

The Kerala government is not financially sound. An interview given by Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac in The Times of India has said this. He says it is mostly the result of the devastating floods and the central government's lackadaisical approach to Kerala's disaster.  That leaves us to thoroughly discuss the event that happened five months back.

Despite the lakhs of Keralites settled abroad, in countries like the US and Canada and in the European countries and the Gulf which are immensely rich, we are facing a problem caused by ourselves or our fathers. If there is a will, there is a way. Kerala is much ahead of other states in matters like healthcare , education and literacy. That perhaps explains why we are holding a celebration of 1000 days of Pinarayi's government.

Ever heard of a government holding public meetings to celebrate its 1000 days ? That too spending Rs.10 lakhs on it. This bizarre festival will be repeated by the next government probably spending a few lakhs more. It's just not done. And then you claim you have no money!

Further, giving a heavy blow to the CPM, is the action against SP Chithra Theresa John for raiding the CPM office in Trivandrum. She raided it in search of some of the accused in the attack on the police. She says she had information that the wanted ones were staying in the CPM office. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan the CPM general secretary says that despite the raids, nobody could be arrested and that it is true that the raid took place for strange reasons. That is no argument for it is common knowledge now that the police is divided into pro-CPM, pro-BJP, and pro-Congress police. They may have informed the office of the raid and the culprits would have escaped easily.

That's a serious issue in Kerala because Kerala was said to have been different from North Indian states where no police action takes place against the culprits who are part of the ruling party. The media played it up. Have the police got the rule of law or is it an offence when Pinarayi's government is in power? Such incidents may happen elsewhere but in Kerala, known for its respect to the rule of law, this is bizarre. Though the police big shots who were asked to investigate the matter did not submit anything against the police officer Pinarayi Vijayan said in the Assembly that raids on party offices should not happen.

Will any of the former Kerala chief ministers have done this? Certainly not. Pinarayi and Kodiyeri seem to have become a law unto themselves.

Sasi is an MLA of the CPM who won handsomely in the election. But in dealing with a woman who was an activist of the women's wing of the CPM, he committed mistakes. The woman lodged a complaint to the party secretary at  the local level and then to Kodiyeri. No action was taken say reports. She filed a petition to party general  secretary Sitaram Yechury and to Brinda Karat. She had the support of Achuthananthan the senior most leader of the CPM.

Sasi stands exposed and was removed from the post in the party except as member of the assembly. In between all this, Kerala MP PK Sreemathi and current minister Balan too conducted an enquiry. Finally the punishment came as a blow to the party. What a blow. The jury is out.

Then there was cyclone Okhi in 2017. The controversy over the relief continues. The floods five months ago accounted for 483 deaths. Rupees ten thousand was to be paid to the survivors of the devastation. Five months have gone after the devastation and many people are yet to get the promised ten thousand. Those whose houses were destroyed some say, are yet to get their houses rebuilt. This despite the fact that immediately after the floods Pinarayi Vijayan led the state's forceful rescue efforts. But those days are gone and the praises the government got are forgotten. Any tragedy will be forgotten immediately after and much remains left undone.

For a government that came to power reminding the poor and downtrodden the misdeeds of the previous government headed by Oommen Chandy, the CPM should concentrate on rectifying the previous Congress government's actions. Among the beneficiaries of the government lands was the Marthomites. That is all forgotten despite the slogans raised by the CPM.

That said, Pinarayi Vijayan has done a good job in leading the government's move against the BJP and the Congress in the Sabarimala case. He led the government's move to outsmart the BJP. In the process he had to take the course in matters left to Devaswom minister Kadakampalli Surendran and the Devaswom board chairman. However a number of unfortunate incidents in the hill shrine during the recently ended Mandalam-Makaravilakku season could have been handled better with tact, restraint and sensitive crowd management.

Truth to tell, Pinarayi 's government is placed better than what the previous Congress government was. It had only a slender majority and therefore Oommen Chandy had to dance to the tune of Bishops and high ranking caste faction leaders for survival. Pinarayi's government doesn't have to fear that.

- P C Punnen, Senior Journalist.

(The views expressed in the article above are those of the author.)