V.S. Achutanandan – a false icon

via Pradeep Ayroor published on August 3, 2009

If there is any leader in Kerala politics today, who grew in stature cutting across political and communal divides, undoubtedly that is V.S.Achutanandan.  The proliferation of television and news channels has helped this individual in no small measure in his ascent as a popular leader.  Over the years, a vast majority of Keralites, irrespective of their political beliefs, reposed their faith in this leader.  In a way we have seen the evolution of Achutanandan as a political personality and at the nadir of his political career it is worthwhile to assess his true value.

Achutanandan, till he became the chief minister of Kerala, was known best for his hard line policies.  The popularity he earned came during his stint as an opposition leader.  No doubt he has cleverly exploited the sentiments of the average Keralite in building an image that suits a popular leader.  Whether it is cases of atrocities against women, corruption, or the plight of the labour class, he had been vociferously articulating the voices of the victims and the general public.  Slowly and steadily a vast majority of people knowingly or unknowingly began to see Achutanandan as their alter ego. 

His rustic oratory and no-nonsensical approach to issues of the average Keralite endeared him immensely to many Keralites.  This author has come across sympathizers of non-Communist political parties who have a soft corner for Achutanandan.   Surprisingly, these people, who have staunch ideological views on many issues, do not treat Achutanandan at par with other Leftist leaders.  Achutanandan, for them, is an old patriarch who cares for their welfare.  It does not matter for them that many of the issues that had been close to Achutanandan’s chest still remain unresolved.  These sympathizers are smugly satisfied with the lip service that the Octogenarian  leader had paid while he was in the opposition.  They never care to evaluate his track record as the Chief Minister; to be precise, they do not bother to  check if Achutanandan has taken any of his favourite campaigns to its logical conclusion.

On checking each of the issues taken up by Achutanandan, one gets a disappointing picture about the campaigns and their outcomes. 

The electronic media images of his earlier utterances when compared to his current complacent attitude speak for themselves.  One is forced to wonder if this is the same firebrand communist leader who had promised to usher in an era of social security and welfare upon the Left assuming power in Kerala.   Events since Achutanandan became Chief Minister have been revealing. 

The Munnar campaign should be actually viewed as an attempt to generate publicity.  That was yet another initiative by Achutanandan to cozy up to the underprivileged of the state; but Achutanandan definitely will not go down in the state’s history as a ruler who took genuine measures to offer land to the landless or assuage the sorrow of the downtrodden.  Unwittingly he has been exposing himself. 

In a state where the so called minorities are actually the predominant communities in terms of resources, the Paloli Committee report has been an insult to the poor Hindus.  Achutanandan has been toeing the party line on such crucial issues like the Paloli Committee report and the corrupt practices in the Tranvancore Devaswom Board.  His blind sympathizers pathetically fail to assess his views on such important matters.

On close scrutiny we get the picture of a power hungry politician who is not much different from other polititicans.

On his demotion from the Politbureau, if he was a politician who is sincere to the issues he raised, corruption being the topmost of them, he ought to have resigned graciously and taken to the street to explain his stand to the masses.  He rather chose to enjoy the warmth and grandeur of power – in plain terms he is addicted by the wine of state power.  He knows very well that if he goes out like K.R.Gowri and M.V.Raghavan, he may meet with a fate not much different from theirs.  So discarding all values and scruples, the darling of the middle class Keralites has chosen to retain the  Chief ministerial chair swallowing the pledges, promises and resolutions of past years. It is no secret that the Marxist party has become more of a corporate entity flush with a lot of funds.  The wedding extravaganza of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son and other high profile events organized by the CPI(M) smacks for ill-gotten money and corruption.  Chief Minister Achutanandan has been a mute accomplice to all such acts of wasteful spending.  He seldom dares to antagonize the official group.

V.S. Achutanandan just chose to put the blame on bureaucratic non-cooperation for his inability to tackle many of the crucial issues that he had raised.  Governance has been severely affected by the intraparty squabbles within CPI(M).  According to the State Government’s own estimates there are lakhs of files awaiting clearance; and the sad part is that a vast majority of these files are held up owing to ego clashes between the CM and his ministers.

If media reports can be believed, Achutanandan’s son Arun Kumar who is just an MCA was preferred ahead of other meritorious candidates for the post of Additional Director of Kerala Government’s Institute of Human Resources Development (IHRD).  This obviously is an act of blatant favouritism by the so-called crusader against corruption.  There is another allegation that the Chief Minister scuttled the takeover of Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology (RGCB) by the Central Government fearing a probable loss of his daughter’s job with RGCB.

On evaluating his public life as a whole one gets an image of a power hungry politician who goes to any length to protect his chair and get plum governmental posts for his kith and kin.  The media-cultivated image of an activist politician who stands against corruption and other evils is just a facade behind which lurks a highly ambitious and selfish politician who may not be much different from K.Karunakaran or even Lalu Prasad Yadav on closer scrutiny.

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