Q:There was a perception even among the party leaders a few months ago that the Congress would fare poorly. Has that changed? By what margin?
A: The current political scenario is favourable to the Congress. I am not exaggerating it in anyway. It is indeed quite favourable. For the UDF, it may be a repeat of the 2009 polls in terms of seats in the LS polls (16-4). There is a chance of scoring even more, peg it at 17 or 18. But the last two weeks of campaigning are always critical.
Q: What in your opinion is the single most important factor in this turnaround of fortunes?
A: The entire situation has changed. After my induction into the ministry, the party’s confidence level has gone up. There is a new vigour among the workers. I would say that was the turning point in Congress politics in the state. The UDF has restored its credibility and has given rise to new hopes. The change has been dramatic.
Q: After you joined the Cabinet, there seems to be a better unity among the Congressmen. Comment.
A: It is true that before my induction into the Cabinet, there was a precarious situation. But now, all the major issues that confronted the UDF Government, like the solar scam, have faded away. Many of the Opposition’s allegations and accusations have fallen flat. Good examples are stirs like the one launched against Participatory Pension Scheme and the siege laid to the Secretariat and the Chief Minister’s residence. The UDF Government has gained a new face now. Once V M Sudheeran became the KPCC president, we three (Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Sudheeran and I) are working as a team. There is no room for any differences at the moment. If you look at the way seat-sharing talks for the LS polls candidates were carried out and decisions made, this becomes evident.
Q: True, there is more discipline within the party now than in the past. How important is Sonia Gandhi’s public admonition against groupism?
A: It is not like that. Soniaji had given the call at the Kochi convention on the basis of an assessment that there is future for the Congress in the state only if all stood united. Madam knew that it was crucial.
Q: Has the LDF’s choice of candidates, leading to the exit of the RSP from its fold, boosted the chances of the UDF?
A: The LDF is desperate and disintegrated. Except for the CPM and the CPI, there is no worthy coalition partner in the LDF now. The CPM has forgotten the coalition dharma. The supporters of the LDF are demoralised and disillusioned. The rift between V S Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan has gone deep among the cadre, despite attempts by the leaders for a cover-up. People have not come to terms with the fact that the LDF has picked five Independents to contest the polls, as if there is no one worthy enough in the party for the same.
Q: Are you saying parties should work in a more transparent manner?
A: The CPM leaders can no longer ‘tell’ people what the truth is by interpreting facts the way it pleases them. Because everything is open to the public and they can derive their own conclusions. What we need today is more transparency in the way parties function. I am in favour of parties coming under the purview of RTI. Let the people know what they are doing.
Q: How critical would be the Kasturirangan panel report and its implications on the fortunes of the UDF?
A: The Kasturirangan report has been resolved properly by the state government. There is no scope for any doubt after the draft notification issued after approving the findings of the state Biodiversity Board on ESAs.