When Pinarayi Vijayan and his government was surging ahead with international fame on containing Covid-19 in the first phase and managing two successive floods, the battle against the scams by the left government was spearheaded by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, which definitely dented the image of the left.
The Kerala local body election results came as a shocker for Congress. An incumbent state government — neck-deep in scams and at the fag end of its tenure — having an edge in the election shows the political willingness of the left front in facing the electorate. What was lacking in UDF was also the same political will. If you take away Ramesh Chennithala, who fought fiercely against the incumbent government, the Congress party’s top leadership appears to be a damp squib.
The ruling left front was marching ahead without any obstacles from any quarters until 2019, when the left failed the Lok Sabha elections as the Congress won The Congress was playing the role of a constructive opposition, supporting the government at all positive levels. Yes, mistakes were pointed out then and there, and once a while. Overall, it was a smooth ride for the LDF Govt. Perhaps, it was thanks to Ramesh Chennithala playing his role perfectly — supporting people-friendly government initiatives and questioning the state when it slipped from its track.
However, gradually allegations against the LDF Govt began to surface and experts observed a new approach from the Opposition Leader. It started with the Sprinklr scam and in the coming weeks, more allegations came to the fore — Pamba sand mining, consultancy raj, e-bus, etc. While the CPM government denied it each time, the persistent efforts of the Opposition Leader forced the government to resort to corrective measures.
The allegations against the state reached a zenith with the gold smuggling scam pointing towards the Chief Minister’s office. Pinarayi Vijayan’s principal secretary and senior IAS officer M Sivasankar is in custody for abetting the smuggling and CM’s additional private secretary and close aide CM Raveendran is under the ED radar. As the local elections were around the corner, Chennithala neatly packed the government and placed it in front of the Congress. Unfortunately, the government was let off the hook by the party, which did not have enough firepower to deliver the punches.
As Leader of Opposition, Chennithala always had limitations in interfering in party affairs. He maintained his position by guiding the UDF inside and outside the assembly. The situation was ripe thanks to Chennithala’s efforts and the UDF has lost a big opportunity in cashing the situation in their favour.
Chennithala has done all the hard work over the years in exposing the government, stopping various scams and winning the trust of people. It was the duty of the other Congress leaders to convert it into votes. However, a few leaders did not stand with Chennithala by supporting the cause. Few even stayed away from Kerala and avoided campaigning in the state or even in their own constituency. Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor had only arrived to vote when Ramesh Chennithala had travelled around the state for the elections.
When Rahul Gandhi resigned as AICC president after 2019 Lok Sabha debacle, Priyanka Gandhi asked CWC members, “Where were you all when my brother was leading the fight alone?” Every Congress party workers in Kerala will be asking the leaders the same question: “Where were you all when Ramesh Chennithala was leading the fight against the left government”?
Like always, as the senior Congress leader fight over the credit for a victory, they are acting divisive and resorting to blaming each other as the party faces a loss.