THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: No chief minister in Kerala other than the reigning Oommen Chandy might have gone through travails of the kind he had encountered while seated in power. No government in the state had steered its course to the last year in office, with a slender majority of two MLAs in the beginning and currently three, in the 140-member Assembly.
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A ‘letter’, said to have been written by Chandy’s Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala to the Congress High Command recently, which he had consistently denied and indicated as forged, is smouldering. Even then, the contents of the letter in question which has appeared in the media put both the chief minister and PCC president V M Sudheeran in a quandary.
The so-called letter has invariably inflicted more fissures in the delicate ‘unity’ strapped with the party state unit, which is known to have lived with, succeeded and at times withered with the age-old factionalism. The damning charge against Chandy is that the majority communities are distancing from the Congress and UDF government as the dispensation headed by him is viewed as a minorities’ dominated one. The same vociferous charge which the BJP and RSS was championing ever since the government came to power, but used only sparingly by the Left. The backdrop of Chennithala’s alleged letter, or at least its contents even if the letter is claimed to be non-existent or forged, is thus very important. The reverses suffered by UDF in the recent LSG polls has been attributed to Chandy’s ‘tainted figure’ and leading a government mired in ‘scams and authoritarianism’. Though the fact remains that the Congress-led front had scored well in the local polls only once in the history of the state, in the 2010 polls, the minority appeasement charge has found some weightage, given the reality that BJP and allied forces are whipping up religious sentiments and earning dividends as never before in state. Chandy is criticised for pampering IUML and KC(M),a charge which he denies stoutly.
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With the general elections to the Assembly just five months away, despite USPs like the Kochi Metro set for a partial run and test flights to touch Kannur airport soon, the political heat from within may leave the Congress and UDF caged. Chandy, in all probability, is going to be the second Congress chief minister who has put a full five-year term, the other one being the late K Karunakaran once, in office. Chandy might have withered all political storms in his path. Even then, he may find himself in a siege in his last days in office.