Politics wiped out economics when Kerala Budget 2015 became the bone of contention between the ruling and Opposition fronts, but for extraneous reasons. The LDF with 65 seats in the 140-strong Assembly and the BJP with no representation chose to make it a referendum on the bribery against finance minister K M Mani by laying siege to the capital city. On the eve of D-day, both UDF and LDF legislators were forced into a sleep-in inside the Assembly building, uncertain about access in the morning hours. It was perhaps the smear of “adjustment” in the stir over the solar scam last year that forced the Left parties to turn the state capital into a war zone.
In a first, the Budget presentation was marred by large-scale physical attacks with women legislators in the forefront and destruction of property. The LDF chose to physically block the Speaker from entering the House and dispensing his duties, instead of concentrating of blocking the finance minister as a tactical ploy, thereby falling into the classic trap of shooting the messenger. The ruling front’s continued adamant stand played its part in daring the Opposition to go the extra distance. In the bargain, what Kerala got by way of Budget for the coming fiscal year is a rush-through speech that lasted six minutes in the Assembly and a slew of announcements made later in the media room that scorched the common man by way of taxes.
For years now, Kerala has been preening itself as being in a different stratosphere in terms of human development indices vis-à-vis other states in the country. What happened on Friday the 13th will be writ in indelible ink that will remain as a scar on the collective psyche of the Malayali, who hitherto used to scoff at “uncivilised” politicians in some other states. At the end of a day of stark shame for Kerala, the issues are many. Leading the list would be the question as to whether Kerala can afford to continue carrying a chip on its collective shoulder and take pride in being the most political people of India.