It was a well beginning for the UDF government with a mantra ‘with great speed more distance.’ Literally, the government was living up to its mantra. Though it is always said well begun is half done but the UDF Government led by Oommen Chandy sworn in on 18 May 2011 to power with a thin majority, had only a well beginning. After 1 year, the government lost its sheen and started limping, issues triggered by its allies. Now the governance is progressing in snail’s space.
UDF (United Democratic Front) led by Oommen Chandy secured a slender margin in assembly election which held on April 13, 2011. UDF candidates won in 72 seats against 68 seats of LDF (Left Democratic Front). As far the election result was concerned, it was a very close encounter for both the parties which no one could expect. Since a few decades in Kerala politics, in the alternative terms of governance the same party used to be in power.
Irrespective of the political ideologies people follow, all keralities appreciated Oommen Chandy, for the series of innovative practices in people-friendly governance, initiated by the Government of Kerala in strengthening people's access and participation in human development and governance. Even the ardent critiques of UDF led government were impressed by the innovative approach to ensure transparency and accountability in Governance, particularly the 24/7 web-stream functioning in CM’s office. The mass contact programme, in many ways, is the first of its kind to ensure the right to direct access to leaders and senior civil servants of the government.
But after one year the government got into web of controversies which was caused by its own allies in their hunger for power and demand for more ministerial berths. Emerging Kerala, investor programme, was the epicenter of all. This did not generate the kind of results and it was hyped. Mullaperiyar dam safety issue was another major issue that the government had to face, which could cause havoc to four districts of the state, but government could do nothing about it than being obliged to the demands of Tamil Nadu.
The other web of controversies were the political murder of RMP leader, T. P. Chandrashekaran and M. M Mani’s Manakkadu speech. Untimely death of T. M. Jacob, Minister for Food, Civil supplies and Registration due to pulmonary tension which dared the majority of the UDF government and the attempt of government Chief Whip, P. C. George to get R Selvaraj, CPM MLA to Congress by a by-election at Neyyattinkara constituency to keep the side balanced in power.
Web of controversies over Kochi Metro-rail project and whether the project was to be given to DMRC and E. Sreedharan and the round of meetings and time spent for the project. The number of times Omman Chandy repeated that the project was given to DMRC was because people in power wanted to devour the huge amount of commission otherwise they would have got.
Suriyanelli Case and P. J. Kurian was yet another web of controversy. The UDF government had to stand united behind P. J Kurian on Suriyanelli rape case and safe guard him without letting for another judiciary probe against Kurian. The high inflation caused by the central government’s policies led by UPA II and its ripples were there down in south as well. The fuel price hike that happens in every alternative days and the petroleum companies charging Rs. 13 for per liter of diesel consumed by bulk users like KSRTC and that caused a complete ruin for the KSRTC which was plunging into a big debt. But the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state transport corporation which also have the same issue solved the problem by letting the state transport corporation to fuel from private fuel pump stations whereas KSRTC still could not find a solution to save KSRTC.
Even the movie Celluloid directed by Kamal, which won State Film Award could also add storm to the list of controversies. The film showed how bureaucrats such as Malayattoor Ramakrishnan and the then chief minister, K Karunakaran, denied Daniel any benefits and the fame that comes of being Malayalam’s first filmmaker. Karunakaran’s followers vehemently attacked Kamal for misrepresenting facts.
As of now, last in the row is Balakrishna Pillai Vs Ganesh Kumar, Father – Son, fight over ministerial berth because ex-minister father is not getting popularity and honor as much as the current minister his son getting. When Balakrishna Pillai was behind the bars on Edimalayar case, the only MLA from the party, Ganesh Kumar, became the minister. Father thought his son would return the ministerial berth once he was back from jail but son did not return the ministry and there started the conflict between father and son, that Ganesh is not obedient to the party. Chief Whip, P. C. George, with Ganesh’s wife, Yammini Thankachi, aggravated the situation, as a blessing in disguise, father came in the rescue of his son in the family issue and now father and son are patching up.
If the amount of time the government takes for its troubleshooting used for development projects, so many developments could be brought in. As the UDF allies stand united to solve their common problem to be in power, if they could remain united for development projects like, four flyovers in Kochi at junctions of Vyttila, Palarivattom, Edappally and Kundanoor could really be made a reality.
Now the government is almost completing two years in power and let us vigilantly watch out on whether the government, stuck in controversies, would live up to its Mantra and would regain its formidable speed before the next election in 2016.
(I don’t belong to any political party nor follow any, I am just an empowered citizen of this land)