Gloves are off. Left sympathisers disenchantment with Kerala’s Pinarayi government burgeons
A victory for communists in Kerala at a time when the mainstream Left forces were gasping for political relevance in the country was welcomed even by those who were unhappy with the way politics is practised in the country.
They thought the CPI(M) would script an alternative narrative in politics. But within two months many who dreamt of an alternative political trajectory, is already feeling let down by Pinarayi Vijayan government.
Not long after Pinarayi took over, the sceptics were flagging the ominous signs that were likely to come up in the near future.
They quoted some of the statements by the chief minister and the key appointments he made to drive home their point that not much is going to change despite LDF coming to power. This scepticism, expressed at a time of euphoria were dismissed as the words of naysayers.
But two months down, the people who used social media extensively to swing votes for LDF in the May election are disillusioned over some of the decisions the government has taken.
The first disenchantment came when Pinarayi appointed the controversial lawyer M K Damodaran as his legal advisor. The veteran lawyer was the Advocate General of the LDF government led by late E K Nayanar during 1996-2001.
Damodaran’s role in absolving Muslim League leader and former industries minister P K Kunhalikutty from the notorious ice-cream parlour sexual scandal was widely condemned within the CPI(M) and outside.
Damodaran at that time advised the government against implicating Kunjalikutty in the case. This was against what Director General of Prosecutions K Sukumaran has recommended. The Left front government heeded the advice of Damodaran thereby washing Kunhalikutty squeaky clean and giving him political longevity.
There were allegations that Damodaran got favours for his ‘valuable’ advice. Viewed to be a very close associate of Pinarayi, and a party sympathiser, Damodaran has publically criticised V S Achuthanandan when he raked up the ice cream parlour case at the state conference of the CPI (M) in 2005.
He has appeared for Pinaryi in the SNC Lavalin case also. Because of his proximity to the chief minister, the appointment of Damodaran was not unexpected.
But what has annoyed the Left sympathisers now is when Damodaran appeared for lottery baron Santiago Martin against whom the Kerala government is fighting a case in the High Court.
Damodaran’s legal brief does not stop with Martin.
On Tuesday, he appeared for INTUC leader R Chandrasekharan against the government in a corruption case in Cashew Development Corporation.
This has lead to the serious criticism against the government from various quarters. Left sympathisers who were soft in their criticism earlier are now venting their ire against Pinarayi for retaining Damodaran as his legal adviser.
Its not just Damodaran, there are other issues which are adding to the disenchantment of Left sympathisers.
Ice cream sex scandal case filed by former chief minister V S Achuthanandan seeking CBI probe came up before Supreme Court, but the Kerala government turned against VS. It said his petition is politically motivated. This move, critics allege reflects the close association Pinaryi is having with the likes of Kunhalikutty who is alleged to be involved in the case.
Not just politically sensitive issues, critics allege the government does not want to break the status quo set by the UDF government in many social issues. The Left government days back said in Supreme Court that it does not want women with in the age group of 10-50to enter the Sabarimala Temple.
Womens’ organisations have been demanding an end to the discrimination against them in offering prayers at the hill shrine.
After the LDF government’s stand created furore CPI (M) secretary has said that the government will reverse its position.
Some observers feel that with Pinarayi becoming the chief minister, the role of the party in the government has ended. They say Vijayan is still controlling the party, though he relinquished the state secretary’s post after 17 years
With Achuthandan completely sidelined , and a lame duck secretary like Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at the helm of the organisation, there is little chance – at least for now -for the party to steer the government in the left direction.