Sparring between CPI(M) and CPI is a storm in a tea cup Thursday, Mar 5 2009 

CPI State Secretary Veliyam Bhargavan

CPI State Secretary Veliyam Bhargavan

The sparring between the CPI and the CPI (M) over the Ponnani Lok Sabha seat will end up as a storm in a tea cup. The spat between party CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan is intended to hoodwink the voters.

True that some CPI leaders are not comfortable with the PDP’s virtual membership in the LDF. While CPI (M) is no more ashamed of alliance with PAP leader Abdul Nasir Maudhani, whom the BJP describe as the father of religious fundamentalism in Kerala, the CPI don’t want to appear to be too close to PDP.

However, it is notable that the CPI’s minimum demand is that the independent candidate proposed for Ponnani need not contest on party symbol, but should become part of CPI Parliamentary party on victory and be subject to party’s whip. This is not an issue over which the two parties would part ways. Both know that victory in Ponnani is a remote possibility and there is little point in quarreling over whether the winner would be in the CPI Parliamentary party.

CPI’s real grouse is that the Hussein Randathani, proposed by the CPI (M) and PDP, had refused to play ball with the CPI as independent candidate fielded by the CPI. He would become acceptable to CPI if he makes some amends.

Mayawati’s forey into Kerala Sunday, Dec 28 2008 

U. P. Chief Minister Mayawati

U. P. Chief Minister Mayawati

Bahujan Samajvadi Party’s forey into Kerala is unlikely to succeed at this juncture. Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati had undertaken a well planned tour of Southern States including Kerala. However, she is unlikely to find political space in State politics dominated by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF)

Because of their ties with BSP at the national level, the Left parties would come under some compulsion to accommodate the BSP in the LDF. However, it is in the interest of the CPI (M) in Kerala that it did not create a competitor for its base among the backward classes. It would not be near impossible for the BSP to press for accommodation, especially when it comes to seat sharing for the Lok Sabha elections, since the party has hardly established any base in Kerala.

The BSP had been fielding candidates in the Lok Sabha elections from Kerala for long. However, its votes had hardly ever exceeded a few thousand votes. Its votes share has been just 0.50 per cent. (This, however, marked a three to four fold increase from vote share in the previous elections when party’s votes hardly ever exceeded the three digit figures.) As of now, she would not be able to improve upon it significantly without getting into coalition politics in Kerala.

The UDF and LDF has fairly good base among dalit communities and they are trying to consolidate that base further. Mayawati has apparently realised that the LDF would not relish her eating into their base. So, she sought to appeal to economically backward among the forward classes by speaking for job reservation for them. In Uttar Pradesh, she had been expanding her appeal to forward classes. However, her stand in favour of reservation for the economically backward classes goes against the basic Constitutional tenet on reservation which is based on social and educational backwardness.

Though reservation based on economic status would appeal to organisations like the NSS, they are not going to put their eggs in Mayawati’s basket unless she demonstrates her prowess in the State. This, as mentioned before, will be an uphill task. The kind of politics that leads to killing PWD engineer by politicians for refusal to pay political contributions is not going to appeal to Keralites. The State leader of the party A. Neelalohitadasan Nadar too lacks a good image.

Kerala Cabinet to stage dharna in Delhi Tuesday, Oct 7 2008 

Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan with a few of his Cabinet colleagues

V. S. Achuthanandan with a few of his Cabinet colleagues

Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan is proud of his plan to go to Delhi and stage a dharna there on October 17. He says that it is because he would be expounding people’s cause. His protest is against the Centre neglecting the States demands for better quotas of grain, power and other concessions.

However, he would be striking a blow to Indian federalism. Such actions reflect weakening of our institutional systems. One need not doubt that the Chief Minister has genuine grievances when he leads his Cabinet and State legislatures to Delhi in protest. But it is also to be observed that both the State and Central governments have failed to deal with each other in an effective and fair manner. The Members of Parliament, representing the State, have failed to play their role effectively in Parliament. Why could not they represent the State properly? All 20 of them were supporting the UPA Government until recently.

There is also little doubt the Chief Minister has other compulsions in rushing tot the Centre at this juncture. It is part of his strategy for winning seats for his Front in the coming Lok Sabha elections. So, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take the matter seriously and deal with it in a statesman like manner. It is in the country’s interest that the two leaders settle their differences, if any, over the table rather than on the streets. Petty politics should not come in the way of settlement. For the Indian Union shall not become a wonderland of an emperor, empress and satraps.

The UDF response is typical. It will stage a dharna and disrupt traffic before the Secretariat on the same day (October 17) against tariff hikes. Well, they can easily forget that prices have risen all over India.

Related: Power crisis in Kerala

Will the Left dump the Congress over nuclear deal? Sunday, Jun 22 2008 

Indian Parliament

The possibilities are high. After being quite for a while on the nuclear deal issue, the Congress and the Left parties are once again started raising the decibel levels. This appears to be for a parting of ways just before the Parliament elections. That does not mean that they would not again come together, if there is scope for forming a government after the elections.

The Left parties have little to gain by fighting the coming Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the Congress. They have strength only in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal where Congress and its allies are their opponents.

If the Left fights the elections with the Congress, CPI (M) has hardly anything to gain. It cannot win a seat in Tamil Nadu with the help of Congress. (The help of Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam- DMK is another matter. That is why there will be more than one round of consultations before the Left pulls out.) The CPI has been practically wiped out in most of the States other than the three. So, it too has not much to gain from the alliance. The RSP has already quit the coordination committee.

The Left knows that the incumbency factor and the people’s dismay over the price rise would work against them if they stay with the Congress. If they part ways, they can create the impression that they are opposed to the Congress and its policies.

The Congress too has little to gain from a truck with the Left. It may get some votes, sometimes crucial, in some pockets in several States across India (excluding Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal). However, the Leftists are not going to vote the BJP under any circumstances. So, in most pockets those votes could be cornered by the Congress and its allies even if there is no formal understanding with the Left.

In short, electoral exigencies will decide the parting of ways of the Left and the Congress rather than differences over nuclear deal with the United States.

Seat Position in Lok Sabha

Janasree is just not for the people Friday, Feb 8 2008 

Minister for Local Self Government Paloli MohamedkuttyThe CPI (M) has come out strongly against launching of Janasree programme by the Congress-led Union Government. Local Administration Minister Paloli Mohamedkutty has alleged that it would undermine the Kudumbasree programme and create financial anarchy in the microfinance sector.

However, the real reasons for the strident criticism by the Minister are different. The Congress is planning to use the programme to fund non-government organisations and use it for leverage in the coming Lok Sabha elections. There is little doubt that the funds would mostly go to the supporters of the party.

It is, however, to be noted that Congress is trying to emulate the CPI (M) in its own way. The CPI (M) has built up a financial empire consisting of cooperative and other institutions in the control of the party. Employment in those institutions was used to win and reward supporters. Huge sums were raised for business including Government subsidies.

If the trend catches on, political parties of all hues would soon be running financial empires. No doubt that they would eventually assume mafia characteristics. We know that politicians also behind all the so-called land mafia deals in the State.

The trend does not augur well for democracy. The non-political, ordinary people will be exploited by those politico-financial empires. People will be forced to buy services from them as is already happening in the State. If in doubt, just look at the way the land prices have gone up in the State. The political mafia is expanding its grip over land, after gaining control of public sector units and other institutions. Soon, they will do the same in other sectors including micro finance. The communal mafia is also pitching for their share in the cake.