First anniversary of CPM led Ministry in Kerala

via Pradeep Kumar published on June 3, 2007




The Left Democratic Front (LDF) ministry headed by CPM leader V S Achutanandan completed one year in office on 18th May. Political observers are of the view that performance of most of the ministers, including the Chief Minister has been dismal. The CPM, which came to power promising drastic developments and improvements, could not show any worthwhile achievement. 


Acute factionalism in the CPM between Pinarayi Vijayan and Achutanandan factions is giving much trouble to the Chief Minister. In fact majority of the ministers of CPM belong to the Pinarayi faction and the CM is virtually ‘covered’ by the coterie loyal to Pinarayi making a mess of every government decision.


The LDF Ministry’s innings commenced with the sexual escapade, involving PWD minister, PJ Joseph (Kerala Congress- Joseph group), who was accused of behaving indecently with a Malayali woman, on a private Airline and ultimately owing to popular pressure he had to resign. TU Kuruvila who succeeded Joseph to head the Public Works Department proved that what he was best at was to attract criticism for inefficiency.


The VS Ministry assumed office when farmers all over Kerala, especially in Waynad district, were continuing to commit suicide due to their inability to repay their bank loans. The LDF had capitalised on this issue during the campaigning for the April 2006 Assembly polls. After the assumption of charge by Achuthanandan and his colleagues the suicides continue unabated and 110 farmers end their life with the Government groping in the dark.


The Canadian company, SNC Lavalin had come to repair hydel plants in Kerala with a ‘deal’ with none other than CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, when he was Power minister. In spite of repeated demand from all quarters the Government refused hand over the case to CBI and ultimately the High Court had to intervene to order a CBI probe, by a tactical move by Achutanandan.


Lack of performance has been the hallmark of the Cabinet. Almost all Ministers had given ample opportunities to prove that they are inefficient and incapable of positive governance. Apart from Education and Cultural Affairs Minister MA Baby and Health Minister PK Sreemathy, who have received most of the brickbats for non-performance, the other Ministers from the Marxist party have been a failure.


Several of the shortcomings of these two leaders, both belonging to the CPM’s faction led by State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, could have been avoided. The Kerala State Self-Financing Professional Colleges Act 2006, which was passed in haste, has now become useless as Court after Court, including the Apex Court rejected Government’s pleas. Legal experts and political observers say that Baby was careless in bringing such a “revolutionary” legislation. There are allegations that Baby being a Christian was acting hand in glove with the Christian managements who run majority of the self financed colleges in the State, with a shrewd move to bring the minority to its fold.  All the cultural organisations in the State were filled with hard-core Marxist fellow travelers who are in the Pinarayi camp.


If Baby was criticised for his action, Sreemathy was flayed for inaction. As soon as taking charge of the ministry the Health Minister became the focus of public ire. Her failure to control the spread of chikungunya in the State and the recent death of 38 newborn babies due to bacterial infection at the Government run Sree Avittam Thirunnal Hospital in Thiruvanantnahpuram, right next door to the State Secretariat and the Assembly complex brought out the inefficiency of the minister.


While assuming charge of the Industries Department, Elamaram Kareem who promised that he would revive sick public sector units and make investments flow to Kerala, is groping in the dark without a practical Industrial policy, experts observe.


Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a close confident of Pinarayi Vijayan, has been one of the first Ministers to be charged with inefficiency as several people died in police custody. The deaths, more than ten in the first four months, revealed the failure of this Kannoor strong man. The CPM cadres are allowed to rule over local police men and the killing of RSS/BJP/VHP workers are continuing unabated with the help of Police and CPM goondas.


He had also created a general dislike among people for himself when he refused to act as per the Chief Minister’s wish in reinstating IG Rishiraj Singh, who was removed from the post by the DGP for raiding a studio owned by the wife of an IPS official Tomin Thachankary, who is close to Pinarayi Vijayan. Kodiyeri failed miserably to contain the growing Muslim terrorist activities in the State, thanks to his proximity wit several leaders of rabidly communal Muslim out fits.


Employment Affairs and Excise Minister PK Gurudasan who is in the Achuthanandan camp contrary to his promises did nothing for the welfare of the working class. No steps for the welfare of, the Cashew and Coir workers.Proposals in his  excise policy are aimed to please the Abkari lobby, the traditional money spinners of CPM.


The CPI representatives in the Cabinet were destined to be trapped in mind-boggling situations right from the initial days. Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran found that there was nothing he could do except to follow what the Chief Minister and CPM was saying in the situation emanating from the unending series of farmers’ suicides. Food and Civil Supplies Minister C Divakaran was seen taking weak stands on several issues including the efforts to control the spiralling prices of essential commodities.


The most testing job, somehow, fell on the heads of Revenue Minister KP Rajendran and Forests Minister Benoy Viswam of the CPI, and the party is now realising that despite the fact that it holds the two portfolios directly connected with the Munnar developments, they have no role in the entire matter. Even their own office in the area was pulled down on charges encroachment.  The Chief Minister even rejected outright the party’s objection to the appointment of the special team for eviction mission in Munnar and ultimately the party succumbed to popular pressure.


The performance of Local Administration Minister Paloli Muhammadkutty, Power Minister AK Balan (both CPM leaders), all the four CPI Ministers, Kerala Congress (J) member in the Cabinet TU Kuruvila and Transports Minister Mathew T Thomas are also dismal.


The only job of Cooperation Minister G Sudhakaran is his frequent outbursts against leaders of other political parties, bureaucrats, etc., He introduced the controversial Devaswom Act taking over the control of Hindu temples of Kerala inviting much protest from Hindu organisations. The entire VS cabinet is groping in the dark without any direction and purpose. The internal conflicts within the CPM make the bureaucrats, timid and inactive. The people of Kerala are reeling under the weight of the LDF government with no hope to look on.


The single biggest hurdle in the way of smooth and efficient performance for the VS Achuthanandan-led LDF Government in the State has been the never-ending faction feud in the lead constituent of the Front, the CPI (M).


The intra-party war entered a more ferocious phase after Achutanandan became Chief minister, to the utter dismay of Pinarayi group. In the allocation of ministerial berths, Pinarayi with the help of central leaders out smarted Achutanandan. As a result Achutanandan’s cabinet is filled with Pinarayi loyalists. It had come into play in several key issues of the Government, and the friction had at one stage had become so harmful that the central party leadership had to intervene and constitute a five-member party panel to coordinate between AKG Centre and the Government.


The row did not stop there. It went on further to mar the portfolio allocation process. Pinarayi wanted every minor department connected with Home to stay with Kodiyeri, but Achuthanandan himself and his supporters wanted to get Vigilance for obvious reasons. In the end, Achuthanandan was to meet the next defeat in the series. From then on, it was clear that the administration would not be a smooth affair.


Though almost all issues connected with public administration saw direct or indirect reflection of the party group war, it sank to self-humiliating levels in case of the proposed ADB loan for the five city corporations in the State for sustainable development. The Chief Minister on one side and the Local Administration Minister Paloli Muhammadkutty and Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac, both staunch Pinarayi-supporters on the other side washed a lot of dirty linen in the public. In the end Achuthanandan surrendered completely to retain his Chief ministership by agreeing for the loan.


As VS plans more raids on encroachments and more smart cities in the State, more intra-party problems are bound to come up. For example, the present Mission Munnar is not in the best tastes of Pinarayi Vijayan, and he had not cared to keep it a secret when Achuthanandan had constituted the special team for recapturing the encroached lands. It seems, party general secretary Prakash Karat will have to intervene more often in Kerala affairs!


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