Kerala Elections: Do you remember 2006?

Anyone who intently follows the political landscape in India, Kerala, and the US, will be constantly entertained, shocked, and titillated by at least one blockbuster election in a year. In 2008 an unknown left wing Senator from Illinois ran for President and won in the US, in the summer of 2009 India gave a second term to UPA and routed the left in it’s bastions, in 2010 US went to polls battering Obama’s majority in Senate and House, and in 2012 Obama will run for President against. But 2011, like 2006 is an election where one cannot sit back and relax and be thoroughly entertained. Assembly elections in Kerala is a matter of life and death.

Because if you remember 1991-1996, and 2001-2006, and what we collectively went through as a group of helpless people with no semblance of a government, you don’t want a 2011-2017. Because on an evening in May 2001, Eliyas John of NTV, producer of then popular news programme “Aniyara”, a vocal critic of the then left front government, summarized the election results that came in, in this way:

“This programme has been a harsh critic of the Nayanar government. But tonight we feel sad that Kerala is losing another left democratic government. Because if history is any indicator, we have nothing much to hope for in the next five years”. Short and sad. But if anyone remembers the UDF reign from 2001 to 2006, you might have that sinking feeling on the night of May 13th, whichever party you voted for.

Now in case you don’t remember stuff from 5 years back, these names might ring a bell - Do you remember Nalakath Soopy? I clearly remember the Minister for Education, a person handling one of the most tricky and critical departments in Kerala, as a student activist. Soopy was a fool, to put it lightly. A senior congress minister admitted that Soopy didn’t get it, and another doubted if Soopy had seen a school veranda given the way he conducted himself in cabinet and outside. But Soopy reigned over the education sector for 4 long nightmarish years. 4 long nightmare years at the end of which A.K. Antony expressed his disgust over how minority institutions have let the people of Kerala down. A.K.Antony had to step down as Chief Minister, and Soopy went back to eating koi biriyani he made out of Kerala’s educational sector. Hightlight: “Pennum Koiyiyum” in reference to this classic painting.

Do you remember P.Sankaran? The Karunakaran loyalist who ran Health for 4 years? Do you remember how he sleep walked through Kerala’s much touted health sector with no clue what he was speaking about. Do you remember him complaining about the fact that no one listens to him anywhere. Malabar owes a lot to rest of Kerala for sending Soopy and this gentleman to Thiruvanathapuram.

Do you remember Cherkalam Abdullah? the man who replaced and was succeeded by Paloli, to run the most critical experiment in the Kerala Model. Do you remember him making egg scramble out of the People’s Plan campaign initiated by the Nayanar government and referred by Nobel winning economists as the most important experiment in any third world country? He was another lucky dude from Malabar who escaped multiple corruption charges along with P.Sankaran and T.M. Jacob because the limelight of corruption and decadence, and the opposition’s ire was monopolized by another fine gentleman from Malabar – P.K.Kunjalikutty. Now if education, health, and local self government seem unimportant to you, we should look at the Ministry of Industries.

I’m sure you remember P.K.Kunjalikutty. And unlike Soopy, Sankaran, and Abdullah, Kunjalikutty has not gone anywhere. He will be back as a deputy Chief Minister if UDF wins this election. Haha the ides of May.

So you remember Balakrishna Pillai I guess. The Minister for Transportation, and long serving minister for power. He is in Poojapura central jail. He did file a review petition, and the court said f- off.

Do you remember Kuriyartutti-Karappara? also known as T.M.Jacob’s route to join his fellow Kerala Congress man in Poojapura Jail.

Do you remember M.V.Raghavan? This gentleman spend his five long years as Minister for Co-operatives and Ports, as a long fight to win the control of Pariyaram Medical College. He did score a couple of points against arch nemesis CPM, but then he kept saying no to the vizhinjam port and then slept over it as pressure built up.

Do you remember Gowriamma? The question was less about whether Agriculture sector in Kerala will survive the monsoon, and more about will Gowriamma survive the rainy season. She is still there. Respect.

Do you remember M.A.Kuttapan? A pawn in the long squabble between the Karunakaran and Ommen Chandy groups. Thats all i remember about him.

Do you remember Kadavoor Sivadasan? The man who inherited a state without power cuts, and then totally derailed the Vision 2000 gains made by Pinarayi Vijayan as Minister for Power. Kadavoor though gained his share of notoriety by distributing pamphelts during election season to split Ezhava votes against Mercykutty Amma. He won the election, though the matter was taken up by the court. That remains his only achievement.

Do you remember K.Sudhakaran? Otherwise this video might help.

Do you remember Vakkom Purushu? The man who officiated during Ommen’s absence and was finance minister. And many of us think Veerappan was the biggest sandal wood smuggler. Then of course Andamans is not India, though cellular jail wasn’t the biggest crime that happened in Andamans.

The choice in front of the electorate in Kerala is amply clear. Have things changed in the UDF? How did the UDF perform in the opposition? Can Ramesh Chennithala frame a coherent policy and articulate it? Have you ever seen him do that – Other than say things like “..if we come to power we will bring 2 smart cities” (one in Puthupally and the other in Mavelikkara ofcourse). Cannot sum up the Ommen Chandy opposition’s performance better than this

കേരളത്തിലെ പ്രതിപക്ഷത്തിന്റെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനം അല്‍പത്തരങ്ങളുടെ ആകെത്തുകയാണ്. രാഷ്ട്രീയ കാരണങ്ങളാല്‍ ചില മാധ്യമങ്ങള്‍ ഈ അല്‍പത്തരങ്ങളെ ആഘോഷമാക്കി മാറ്റുന്നുവെന്നു മാത്രം

Berly summarizes it with a classic curtain raiser,

കേരളത്തില്‍ നിയമസഭാ തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പു കഴിഞ്ഞു എന്നും നമ്മളെല്ലാവരും കൂടി ഉമ്മന്‍ ചാണ്ടിയുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തിലുള്ള സര്‍ക്കാരിനെ വോട്ടു ചെയ്ത് വിജയിപ്പിച്ചു നിര്‍ത്തിയിരിക്കുകയാണെന്നും ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ കാലാവധി കഴിഞ്ഞിറങ്ങുന്ന മുറയ്‍്ക്ക് ആ ടീം കയറി ഭരണം തുടങ്ങുമെന്നുമുള്ള കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഞാന്‍ മാത്രമേ അറിയാത്തതായുള്ളോ അതോ നിങ്ങളും അറിഞ്ഞിട്ടില്ലേ ?

ഇന്നലത്തെ ബജറ്റിനെപ്പറ്റിയുള്ള യുഡിഎഫുകാരുടെ പ്രതികരണം കണ്ടപ്പോള്‍ മുതലാണ് എനിക്കു സംശയം തോന്നിത്തുടങ്ങിയത്. ബാലകൃഷ്ണപിള്ള അകത്തുപോയി. പാമൊലിന്‍ കേസിലേക്ക് ഉമ്മന്‍ ചാണ്ടിയെക്കൂടി വലിച്ചിടാന്‍ മുസ്തഫ ആഞ്ഞു ശ്രമിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്. കുരിയാര്‍കുറ്റി-കാരപ്പാറ പദ്ധതി അഴിമതി കേസില്‍ ജേക്കബിന്റെ കാര്യവും കയ്യാലപ്പുറത്താണ്. കുഞ്ഞാലിക്കുട്ടി സാഹിബ് ഐസ്ക്രീം കേസില്‍ പാറിപ്പറന്നു നില്‍ക്കുകയാണ്. അഥവാ മണ്ടന്മാരായ നമ്മള്‍ വോട്ടു ചയ്തു വിജയിപ്പിച്ചാലും യുഡിഎഫില്‍ ഗൗരിയമ്മയും മാണിസാറുമല്ലാതെ വല്ലവരും പുറത്തുണ്ടാവുമോ എന്നുറപ്പു പറയാറായിട്ടില്ല. മുഖ്യമന്ത്രിയാവാന്‍ റെഡിയാണെന്ന മട്ടില്‍ വയലാര്‍ രവി ഗദ്ഗദങ്ങള്‍ പുറപ്പെടുവിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്. എല്ലാവരും അകത്തുപോകുന്ന സാഹചര്യം വന്നാല്‍ കെ.മുരളീധരനു പോലും സ്വപ്നങ്ങള്‍ നെയ്യേണ്ടി വരും.

The choice is not roundabout. It is clear. If you are voting for your caste or your religion, none of the above matters. Nor does 1991-1996 or 2001-2006. And we’ll see the clear divisions across districts with CPM carrying the southern districts and the north and madhya Keralam voting for the right. A very plausible scenario.

But if you are looking for a government which hits the right buttons with a 20 year vision for the state, which does not sell out our precious assets and our land, which has clear policies for human development and the ability to execute that on multiple fronts, which does not bow to the pressures of retrograde caste and religious organizations, which has a cabinet of people who know what they are talking about, which makes Kerala rank consistently as the best state in India – you might want to put some effort, drink some coffee, take a deep breath, and try to remember 2006. And try to remember what we went through as a group of helpless people with no semblance of a government. Because otherwise, if history is any indicator, things will fall apart and the center will not hold. 2011-2016 will be a nightmare.