By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala continues to pay the penalty for rebuffing the ruling BJP’s attempts to dig in its heels in the State. And from the look of things, any change in the hostile attitude of the Modi Government seems unlikely towards the state, considered a bastion of secularism, during the remainder of its term in office.
This conclusion is inescapable from the cold shoulder an all-party delegation from Kerala led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan got from the Prime Minister. High hopes that the meeting with the PM would yield positive results have been dashed to the ground, with Modi adopting a totally negative stand towards Kerala’s list of demands.
But for an assurance on adequate help to meet the grave situation arising out of the unprecedented damage caused by torrential rains, the delegation drew a blank. In the process, Kerala’s demand for higher allocation of ration rice and clearance for the long-awaited rail coach factory at Kanjikode foundered on the rock of prime ministerial indifference.
Understandably, a wave of indignation is sweeping the state over the Prime Minister’s shocking apathy. The strong feelings of the state were reflected in the statements issued by both Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Both the CM and the LOP strongly disapproved of the Prime Minister’s negative response. Such hostility militated against the spirit of cooperative federalism tom-tomed ad nauseum by the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders, they opined.
The PM reportedly conveyed his displeasure over the non-inclusion of Union Minister Alphons Kannamthanam in the all-party delegation. And as if to rebuff the delegation, he summoned Kannamthanam for a meeting after the delegation returned to Kerala. This action of the PM is, to say the least, shocking. As a Kerala CPI(M) leader rightly observed, Modi is the Prime Minister of all Indians, and not just the BJP.
Modi’s objections would have been justified had the CM excluded BJP from the delegation. The team included Kerala BJP’s general secretary A N Radhakrishnan too. If the Union minister was not present at the meeting, the blame has to be laid squarely at the PM’s door. After all, Kannamthanam is a part of the Union Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister. And that being the case, it was for the Prime Minister to ensure that the Union minister was present at the meeting. It is regrettable that he did nothing of the kind. To blame the Kerala CM for a lapse on the Prime Minister’s part was grossly unfair.
There is no doubt that the unwarranted and unjustified prime ministerial snub would exact a heavy cost on the Kerala BJP, which has been struggling to cobble together a third front to take on the two dominant political fronts in the state, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF and the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF).
The humiliation meted out to the people of Kerala is bound to unleash a strong backlash of anger against the Modi government. And whatever little gains the party has made in the state would be nullified by the Centre Kerala-hostile stance. It seems the Modi-Amit Shah duo seems to have realized that attempts at saffronisation of the secular state simply would not succeed. That alone can explain the Prime Minister’s indifference bordering on arrogance towards the Kerala all-party delegation. (IPA Service)