By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The efforts of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to woo the Kerala Congress(M) back to the UDF camp have come a cropper.
The stinging KC(M) snub has come in an article published by the party’s mouthpiece, “Ptathichhaya” entitled “Why Kerala Congress Is taking Equal Distance”.
The article saw KC(M) chief K. M. Mani going hammer and tongs against the Congress for what he termed ‘its huge ‘let-down’ of the farming community, which forms the backbone of the KC(M).
It was the Congress-led UDF rule in the state and that of the UPA Government at the Centre which witnessed the largest number of farmers’ suicides, the article alleged.
The Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports were released when the UPA was ruling at the Centre and the UDF in the state. This had put the KC(M) to acute embarrassment, Mani said. As if this was not enough, his efforts to provide title deeds to 58,000 settler farmers in Indukki were thwarted by the UPA Government. What pained him most, Mani recalled, was the efforts made by some Congress leaders in Kerala who moved the court against his attempts to secure justice for the settler farmers.
The trenchant criticism has effectively ruled out a return of the KC(M) to the UDF camp. The rebuff has come at a time when the Congress-led UDF is making a determined attempt to lure the aggrieved KC(M) back to the front.
With the KC(M) saying an emphatic No, the hopes of the UDF that Mani would rejoin the UDF have been dashed to the ground.
The article has also accused the Modi Government of being apathetic to the interests of farmers. The BJP is not a farmer-friendly party, Mani said, adding that it is a party that is helping a minuscule minority of corporates.
Although the article speaks of equi-distance, in reality, it betrays the KC(M)’s pro-Left Democratic Front(LDF) attitude. Mani has, in fact, made warm references to the days when the KC(M) joined hands with the legendary CPI(M) stalwart AK Gopalan in the fight for settler farmers in Idukki district.
The hardening of the KC(M)’s stance vis-à-vis the UDF constitutes a big setback to the Congress’s efforts to firm up the front which has been weakened considerably by the exit, first, of the KC(M) and then the Janata Dal(U). The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is also feeling restive in the UDF camp given the Congress’s big brother attitude. The non-cooperative attitude of the KC(M) means that the Congress and the UDF will have to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls without the support of the KC(M). That is bad news for the UDF which has always put up a good performance in constituencies in central Kerala, the KC(M) stronghold.
The tough political stance adopted by the KC(M) will weaken the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA)’s moves to strengthen the front in Kerala, too. The NDA has already started unravelling with the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS), its main ally, signalling its intent to leave the front. The political outfit headed by adivasi leader C K Janu is also cut up with the arrogant attitude of the BJP and the raw deal meted out to them.
Be that as it may, the KC(M)’s wish to hop on to the LDF bandwagon won’t fructify easily, given the CPI’s stiff opposition to the CPI(M)’s KC(M)-friendly overtures. The CPI has made it clear that neither Mani nor his party is welcome to the LDF. Joining hands with Mani would mean saying goodbye to the LDF’s much-proclaimed anti-corruption battle. That is the CPI’s considered view and the party is in no mood to have second thoughts on it.
That being the ground reality, KM Mani and the KC(M) will have to play the lone ranger in Kerala politics. (IPA Service)