BJP emerges gainer but not the winner in Kerala bypoll Tuesday, Jun 19 2012 

O. Rajagopal on election campaign

Protest against Petrol price hike: BJP candidate rides bullock cart during campaign in the by-election from Neyyattinkara Assembly constituency in Kerala

The LDF has suffered a severe jolt in the by-election from Neyyattinkara in Kerala in June while BJP stood as the major gainer. Both the ruling and Opposition Fronts suffered erosion of votes in the election. The vote share of United Democratic Front (UDF) dropped from about 43 per cent to 40 per cent despite victory in the election while that of the LDF dropped from 49 per cent to about 35 per cent. The BJP’s vote share went up about six per cent to more 23 per cent.

The by-poll was necessitated by the resignation of Mr. R. Selvaraj as CPI (M) member of the Assembly and his defection to the Congress. When Mr. Selvaraj contested as CPI (M) candidate in 2011 under the banner of LDF, he had won a vote share of nearly 49 per cent. As Congress candidate now under the banner of United Democratic Front, his vote share has dropped to 40 per cent. So, it is a loss for all the parties except the BJP.

The BJP has gained from the communal divide caused by induction of fifth Minister belonging to the Muslim League into the UDF ministry. However, both the UDF and the BJP have gained from bigger erosion of votes from the LDF camp. This erosion should have been the effect of protest over the brutal murder of RMP leader T. P. Chandrasekharan and the issues raised by the murder.

The LDF lost votes from three groups— CPI (M) workers who sympathised with Mr. Selvaraj, supporters of line adopted by Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan in the party and supporters of the party in the general population who were antagonised by the murder politics and other policies of the party. The last two groups either voted for the UDF or the BJP depending on their communal inclinations or apathy to the UDF. The UDF lost many votes to BJP as the majority community members turned away from the Front over issues like appeasement of Muslim League. However, it benefitted from consolidation of minority votes in its favour, when the BJP seen as making inroads into UDF support base.

Kamala Surayya (Kamala Das) is being forgotten? Thursday, May 31 2012 

Credit: Sreedharan/WikipediaNot many attended Kamala Surayya’s remembrance on May 31. In Thiruvananthapuram, it was marked by a function organised by Kerala Kalakendram which did not get much attention.

One need not be a fan of her.  Outwardly Madhavikutty appeared to be a child woman with her eccentricities. But she had talent, imagination and style. Above all, she was an iconoclast. It was probably been the purpose of her writing.

It was evident that the leaders of the religion to which she was born or even the one she adopted at the end were not too happy about her conduct. Perhaps that explains why she is being easily forgotten.

Some raised eyebrows about the presence of Finance Minister K. M. Mani at the function.  What has he to do with Kamala Das? they asked. Well, Mani was using an opportunity that would not have come to him otherwise—Mr. Mani was occupying a cultural space vacated by others.

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Neermathalam Poothappol

Entrance examination toppers as heroes Thursday, May 24 2012 


Society should have its heroes. So, it may not surprise us when newspapers in the State flashed photos and reports about the toppers in the entrance examination for professional courses in the State.

However, are they real heroes?  Despite their preservation and hard work, nine out of ten of the toppers had won their positions after spending an additional year preparing for the examinations. In fact, they can be said to have wasted a year in pursuit of something that is no real learning. So, why celebrate the winners?

Moreover, those he won top ranks after spending a year exclusively for preparing for the entrance examinations could not be termed as toppers over those who have written the examinations immediately after passing the higher secondary courses.

We have already abolished ranks for the SSLC examinations. It is high time that we stopped playing up the entrance results which did not even mean the earning of an academic qualification or distinction. If at all anybody is to be congratulated, it is Vishnu Prasad who completed his Plus Two this year.


Murder most foul Sunday, May 6 2012 

T. P. Chandrasekharan

Murdered RMP leader T. P. Chandrasekharan

The murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T. P. Chandrasekharan raises ominous portents. There is little doubt that it a political murder. What makes it more serious is that a quotation gang had been used for a political murder.

Political murders are not unusual in Kerala, especially in Kannur and surrounding areas. The CPI (M) and RSS were mostly involved in such murders though violence from the part of Muslim League and to a lesser extend the Congress was not also unusual. Already, police are investigating two political murders in Kannur—of NDF activist Muhammed Fazal, who had defected from the CPI (M), and Muslim Student Federation leader Shukkur.

The investigations into the murder of Chandrasekharan have led to the finding that a quotation gang from Mayyazhi was behind the murder. The question to be answered now is which political party had hired them. What should worry the people is that political parties which command large sums from businesses are now starting to hire quotation gangs. Such parties would be worse than mafias and will have to be feared the most.

Earlier, we had heard of the police hiring quotation gangs to attack a journalist in Kollam. Now, that politicians are into it, it would not be longer that both collaborate in killings, if that has not already happened in the case of Chandrasekharan. People of Kerala should shudder at the prospect of police and politicians hiring quotation gangs for murder.

CPI (M) finds no alternative Tuesday, Apr 10 2012 

Some had predicted that the CPI (M) Party Congress in Kozhikode would be a historic one. However, the media guessed it right. They knew that no history was going to be made in Kozhikode. So, fewer media persons came to report the Kozhikode Congress compared to the large gathering of national media, especially Hindi media, at the previous Congress in Coimbatore.

What happened in the walled venue modeled like red fort and culminated on the arena modeled like Roman coliseum was the fight between two factions in the Kerala unit.

The finale at the coliseum showed the defeat of Opposition Leader in Kerala V. S. Achuthanandan by party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, watched by the Central leadership of the party. Television cameras showed a defeated Achuthanandan leaving the arena before the show concluded.

The party is still ambiguous whether it has abandoned the Chinese model of communism.  Well, there is hardly any model in China to be followed now. And it is an uphill task for the CPI (M) to develop an indigenous model and ideology as its foundations had been shaken by weakening of Marxism as well as the caliber of its leadership.

Some party leaders have succumbed to pelf and lure of sex. But the real issue is not that some leaders succumb to temptations, but the majority in the party is incapable of acting against them. There is general deterioration of ideological underpinnings of the party and the cadre.

So, even after the Congress, the party would be looking for alternatives. And on the political front, it has no alternative but to ride piggy back on regional parties.

From favouritism to communalism Sunday, Apr 1 2012 

Vellappally Natesan

Vellappally Natesan

SNDP  Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan has urged that Ministers should not show partiality towards members of their community. The general secretary’s complaint is that the ministers are mostly appointing people from their own community in their personal staff and government agencies in their control. The posting of government officials were also being influenced by communal considerations.

Mr. Natesan’s complaint is genuine and need to be addressed. However, the problem is that Mr. Natesan’s organization represents one of the major communal lobbying groups in the State. It is not unknown that the NSS, SNDP, the churches and others lobby for “adequate representation” of their communities in the choice of candidates for elections and minister ships.

Naturally, those who become ministers on the basis of communal lobbying tend to favour their communities disproportionately. The malady could be cured only if communal groups stop their lobbying and allow democratic parties and governments to make their choices based on merit.

Mr. Natesan has also complained that discrimination in the allotment of land at Vagamon. He said that while the Muslims were given 300 acre at Thangalmala and Christians 270 acres at Kurisumala, the Ezhavas were given only 25 acres at Murukanmala.

However, the larger issue here is whether it is proper for governments to donate large extents of public lands to religious entities. What we see at Vagamon is that the government is now catering to various communities instead of evicting large scale encroachments at Vagamon by various individuals and groups.  There is little doubt that the donations are for favour received by politicians during elections and other occasions from religious groups.

Positive verdict in favour of UDF in Kerala Wednesday, Mar 21 2012 

Anoop Jacob

Anoop Jacob

The electoral verdict in Piravom bypoll is a positive vote in favour of the Chief Minister Ooomen Chandy. It unequivocally shows that the people want the Chandy government to continue whatever be its shortfalls.

The unity and support of various communities have indeed played a role. However, a 12000 plus margin would not have been possible because of such factors. For UDF voters have already been swayed in favour of (late) T. M. Jacob and his son Anoop Jacob who won the election.

It is ridiculous to argue that the resignation of Neyyattinkara member of the Assembly R. Selvaraj (CPI-M) had an impact on the by-election. More prominent leaders of the CPI (M) have quit the party in the past and their impact was limited. Whoever, wanted to vote against the CPI (M) had already voted against it in the 2011 elections and hardly anyone else would have joined those ranks in Piravom constituency after Selvaraj’s resignation.

However, it might be true that Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan’s as a vote-puller has further diminished with the mounting allegations against him and his son and increasing realisation that he was not being sincere to the causes he expounded.

The results should be a lesson to Mr. Achuthanandan and the CPI (M). People demand honesty and sincerity and the Chief Minister is saying that the bypoll victory is the reward for his sincerity to people. But the cunning politician that he is, can he be really sincere? May be in responding to representations from people. He doesn’t have to live up to any other ideal than this as he expounds none.

Misreading census figures Wednesday, Mar 14 2012 

census report

Census Commissioner of India releasing the results of House listing and Housing Census in Delhi on March 13, 2012

The Census of India has reported that only 29.3 per cent of Kerala households have piped drinking water supply while more than 50 per cent of the population in 19 other States have access to tap water.

However, this need not be taken as something bad about Kerala. About 62 per cent of the households in Kerala have wells while 1.4 per cent uses water from springs. Though coliform bacteria have been detected in many wells, there is no reason think that they are inferior water source for Keralites.  We know that even piped water supply in cities is often contaminated, often with sewage getting in through leaking points.

Wells are a satisfactory drinking water source in the rural areas of a State with high rainfall. It a little care is taken it can be kept reasonably gem-free. Unlike the urban piped water supply, there is 100 per cent assurance of water from all wells except from wells that dry up in summer.  There are low recurring costs except where motors are used. Drawing water from the wells is a good exercise. Middle class people who don’t have time for it can go for small electric motors. Electricity is no problem as the State has a power-grid with near-total coverage.

On the other hand, the city water supply projects often require heavy investments and recurring costs are about Rs. 12 per kilolitre of water now.  They also see a heavy overdose of corruption which is one reason why the establishment spreads the idea that total piped water supply coverage is desirable. Building dams for drinking water project cause submergence of large areas of fertile land.

The Census figures serve to debunk the oft-repeated claim of Kerala Water Authority that it had achieved around 70 per cent coverage of the population with its cost-intensive schemes.  Parroting the figures of the KWA, the Economic Review (2010) published by the State Planning Board says: “Safe drinking water was accessible to 72.77 per cent of the total population in Kerala during the period 2009-10. In urban and rural areas of the State 84.80 per cent and 68.55 per cent of the population covered respectively by water supply schemes as on March 2010.” (sic)

It is also a wrong notion that a large number of Malayalees build palatial houses. Houses with five or more rooms come to 13.7 per cent which pretty higher than the national average. However, it is to be noted that it is not luxury to have a room for each teenager and adult member of the family. So, having three bedrooms in a nuclear family of four is no luxury. Nearly 40 per cent of the families have five or more members.


70% houses in Kerala lack access to safe drinking water

Malayalis think big on houses, vehicles

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