The recent ‘Emerging Kerala-Global Connect’ saw sparks flying within the ruling United Democratic Front, but the opposition—the Left Democratic Front—was unable to turn it into their advantage and unsettle the government.
Much hype was generated before and after the mega global investments meet, but it turned out to be nothing but mere sound and fury. A bunch of controversial proposals, attempts to sell/lease out government land in the name of development and to top it all lack of coordination within the government marked the meet. Projects like setting-up a convention centre inside the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, tourism project in Nelliyampathy and gas-based power project at Cheemeni created quite a stir.
Though there was some hue and cry over the meet, none of the opposition parties could come up with credible criticism, pointed out political and Leftist thinker Sebastian Paul. Before the opposition could react, the government had repealed the controversial projects from the website of ‘Emerging Kerala’.
“There was a general vagueness surrounding the meet, starting from non-concrete proposals to the government’s dilly-dallying stand. There was a lot of hype over the meet due to which it was projected that whoever opposes the meet is anti-development. To an extent, that submerged opposition criticism. Proper assessment and evaluation should have been carried out after the meet, the opposition failed to do that,” said Paul.
CPI state secretary Panniyan Raveendran in defence said, “Though there was a slow start in protesting, the CPI will soon take up the matter and organise region-wise issue-specific protests.”
Though there were projects from various departments, only a few ministers participated in the detailed discussion sessions in the meet. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had announced proposals worth `40,000 crore, but later, had to swallow his own words during the media briefing, following an intervention by Minister P K Kunhalikkutty.
The Left in the Kerala missed the bus, because it is also facing crisis in the party. The recent Mundur episode reflects that. The Palakkad district secretariat of the CPI(M) came to an understanding to bring rebel leader PA Gokuldas back to the area committee and reinstate his supporters in the positions from which they were ousted in the name of divisionist activities after the rebels, all loyalists of octogenarian hardliner VS Achuthanandan, floated a parallel area committee in Mundur.
The parting of ways of Gokuldas would have spelt doom for the CPI(M) in the six panchayats under the Mundur area committee, where they are ruling now. Except Puduppariyaram, the remaining five panchayats of Kongad, Keralassery, Mundur, Akkathethara and Malampuzha will be lost once the leaders of the dissident faction are expelled from the party.
Mundur is the third bastion of the CPI(M) in Palakkad district to witness rebel trouble after Shoranur and Ottapalam. Though the rebellion in Ottapalam did not grow into a split, the partymen in Shoranur had left the party in 2008 to float their own outfit, the People’s Development Front. The CPI(M) lost the two municipalities of Shoranur and Ottapalam in the last local body elections and this prompted the state leadership to intervene in the Mundur issue. The LDF's ineptitude has Chandy smiling all the way to the bank.