By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This was a course of action the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government should have avoided. Politics of revenge pays neither in the short term nor in the long term.
The reference is to the quick verification probe ordered by the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) against Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and Member of Parliament from Kannur, K. Sudhakaran. The probe has been launched on the basis of a complaint lodged by Sudhakaran’s former driver alleging misappropriation of funds mobilized by the Congress party. The preliminary investigation will check the veracity of the allegations made by the former driver of Sudhakaran, Prasant Babu. Further investigation will be conducted based on the findings of the probe team.
The complaint said the Congress leader has amassed wealth disproportionate to his known source of income. Sudhakaran, Prasant Babu has alleged, had misappropriated funds during the construction of Kannur District Congress Committee office and from the trust which is in the name of former chief minister late K. Karunakaran.
The Government’s ill-thought-out decision has given the Opposition – the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) – a powerful handle to grill it. Leader of the Opposition (LOP) V D Satheesan said the enquiry was nothing but an act of revenge by the Pinarayi Government against leaders of opposition parties. Such actions, Satheesan alleged, are part of the LDF campaign to insult political leaders. It has been undertaken against the backdrop of the raging row over the role of two ministers in the previous government in the Muttil tree felling controversy.
Sartheesan further remarked that as per the law, even a preliminary enquiry cannot be conducted against an MP without the permission of the Lok Sabha Speaker. Former Leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, supported Satheesan’s stand, saying that the move was politically motivated. It is an internal issue of the Congress, and the Vigilance has no right to order a preliminary investigation against Sudhakaran, contended Chennithala. Both Satheesan and Chennithala claimed that the Government’s action stems from its fear of Sudhakaran, who has infused new life in to the moribund Congress and energized its rank and file like never before since he took over as the new KPCC chief.
It cannot be denied that there is substance to the allegations made by the Congress leaders. The politics of vendetta militates against the spirit of democracy. Nor does it benefit the ruling party and its government in any appreciable manner. If anything, such vindictive acts can only boomerang on the government. It will only reinforce the perception that the Government is resorting to such intimidatory tactics to divert attention from the role of the previous Pinarayi Government in the Muttil tree felling controversy. The Government, it must be said, has erred grievously in ordering the probe against Sudhakaran. Instead of indulging in such petulant acts, the Government should counter the KPCC chief politically. Only that Way can it gain greater acceptability and enhance its goodwill.
The greater danger in undertaking such revenge campaigns is that the Government would lose its focus on issues of governance. There are many issues which cry for the government’s immediate attention and action. Topping the list is the paramount need to arrest the renewed surge in daily covid cases in the State. What is causing all-round concern is the fact that while covid cases in other states are showing a downward trend, they are on the rise in Kerala. The Government has also to address the criticism made by the opposition that the actual covid death figures are being concealed. The Government must also take deterrent action against the guilty in the Muttil tree felling controversy which has dented its image. In view of the plethora of problems, the Government must not lose focus on good governance. The sooner it refrains from practising negative politics, the better.
Meanwhile, Sudhakaran has said that the probe against him is politically motivated. If the LDF Government can prove that there is any truth in the allegations levelled against him by his former driver, he would quit political life, he added. “I am ready to face any probe, including a judicial or CBI probe. The vigilance case is politically motivated. The person who has lodged a complaint against me is not a trustworthy person who had even tried to kill me with the connivance of the CPI(M),” said Sudhakaran. He also dared the CPI(M) leaders to declare that the TP Chandrasekharan murder convict Kodi Suni is not a member of the party.
The genesis of the controversy can be traced to the Pinarayi-Sudhakaran rivalry in their Brennen College days. It all began with an interview Sudhakaran had given to a vernacular weekly. In the interview, Sudhakaran, who had been the leader of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) in Government Brennen College, where Pinaryi Vijayan also studied, and worked for Kerala Students Federation, boasted that during a clash between students, he had kicked Pinarayi down! In his response, the CM said Sudhakaran might have dreamed about kicking him and he did not want to prevent him from doing that
The Chief Minister also said that Sudhakaran had plotted to kidnap his son and daughter while they were school students in Kannur. A close confidant of Sudhakaran, the CM claimed, had confided to him Sudhakaran’s plan to kidnap his children. Pinarayi also alleged that Congress leaders P Ramakrishnan and Mambaram Divakaran had referred to Sudhakaran as a corrupt person, a murderer and kidnapper. The CM also accused the KPCC chief of misappropriation of funds in connection with the construction of the party office in Kannur.
One had hoped that the CPI(M)’s welcome decision to end the war of words between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and KPCC president K Sudhakaran would result in a ‘ceasefire’. The CPI(M) had slipped into the ceasefire mode realizing that the Chief Minister had actually walked into the trap set by the combative KPCC chief. But the hopes, unfortunately, had been belied by the Government’s decision to launch a probe against Sudhakaran. In the process, the KPCC boss has made political gains from the entire episode. The ill-advised move can only vitiate the political atmosphere in the state and exacerbate the political discourse. (IPA Service)