The LDF came riding a huge anti-incumbency wave triggered by a carefully orchestrated public opinion on the corruption and sleaze charges against key personalities in the UDF government in Kerala.
Now, things have come a full circle with the 10-month-old LDF government forced to sacrifice two ministers—one to nepotism charges and the other, to a sleazegate. In a society that's getting rocked almost daily by sex scams, the charges of a honeytrap being set by a TV channel, and a couple of public personalities allegedly walking right into it, takes things to a new low.
That the sleazegate episode has tarnished the Left's image ahead of the Malappuram byelection, a referendum on the state government’s performance, in the words of CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, cannot be disputed.
The government has already declared a judicial probe into the allegations, but that’s merely a face-saver. CPM’s cup of woes runneth over as the NCP has already proposed the name of its Kuttanad MLA Thomas Chandy to replace A K Saseendran who stepped down from the Cabinet Sunday after allegedly falling prey to a honeytrap set by a TV channel.
It's no secret that neither the CPM central leadership nor CM Pinarayi Vijayan are keen to induct Chandy—the richest legislator in the state Assembly—into the Cabinet. With assets of over `92 crore, he has business interests abroad, mostly in Kuwait, earning him the sobriquet, Kuwait Chandy and, by extension, an enemy of the proletariat. Not sure if this can be a strong enough excuse for the chief minister to tweak the Cabinet though.
Meanwhile, the sordid saga of Saseendran points to a need for a code of conduct for the ministers, a proposal already pending before the LDF government. In fact, the just-concluded CPM state committee meet did point to 'desirable practices' for its ministers. Whether the state committee will add a code of conduct regarding telephone calls remains to be seen.