Pinarayi 2.0’s first anniversary mired in K-Rail protests
By Sanu V. George
Thiruvananthapuram, May 18 (IANS): The massive statewide protests against K-Rail appear to be proving a drag on the first anniversary of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala, which could impact Thrikkakara bypolls on May 31.
Vijayan led his Left Democratic Front to a resounding victory in the April 2021 assembly elections, when he was able to increase the number of seats from 91 to 99 seats in the 140-member Kerala Legislative Assembly. members, becoming the first CPI-M chief minister to retain office.
He was sworn in for a second time on May 20, 2021.
His argument that the people of Kerala voted for them a second time was because of their manifesto, which stated that the K-Rail project would be implemented. But, massive protests were seen across the state as K-Rail officials began laying yellow marker stones as part of the social impact assessment study.
Vijayan seems to have misinterpreted things and his adamant stance on the project angered people even more. The two main opposition political fronts, the Congress-led UDF and the BJP-led NDA, have openly come forward and joined the people whose lands are supposed to be taken over.
All his efforts to minimize the protests failed and he and his staff had to go back on their word on the project.
When opponents of the project demanded the publication of the detailed report of the project, it was rejected stating that it could not be distributed because it contains a lot of information, some of which concerns national security. But within days of making this statement, Vijayan’s government posted it on the website, forcing itself to swallow its words.
Their attempts to calm and cool things down by holding an open house at all headquarters in the 14 districts came to nothing as the guests were selected by government officials.
Finally, as the partial election campaign of Thrikkakara intensifies, the other day came an order from the government that the laying of the yellow marker stones has been canceled and the K-Rail authorities will now do so using the GPS technology.
Another point of attack Vijayan faced was when social media was abuzz with photo-taking activity during his third visit to the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the United States for his illness which has not yet been disclosed.
There have been frequent discussions on whether Kerala, according to Vijayan and his assistants, has the best equivalent or better medical facilities than the West, so why does he often travel to the United States for his treatment.
Vijayan, who cut short his trip to the United States and returned to the state on May 10, expressed absolute confidence two days later when he opened the election convention for interventional cardiologist Joe Joseph, a surprise selection in as a CPI-M candidate in Thrikkakara.
Vijayan said they have no doubt that when the votes are counted on June 3, the left will hit a century of lawmakers.
But opposition leader VD Satheesan said Vijayan’s government has proven to be a dismal failure on all fronts and has exerted immense pressure on the people in more ways than one.
“The first phase of our victory against K-Rail has been recorded and the time is not far when he will have to announce the cancellation of the project,” said Satheesan.
“There is no governance as the state is reeling from one of its worst financial crises with no money in the coffers. The finance minister is due to issue a white paper on state finances. The state run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has no salary for its employees The government is unable to run KSRTC but they say they will implement the K-Rail project which will cost, if it is implemented, a staggering Rs 2 lakh crore If this happens, Kerala will go to Sri Lanka The left has nothing to brag about as it has proven to be a dismal failure on all fronts,” said said Satheesan.
Whether Vijayan will be able to celebrate the first year of his second term actually depends on the outcome of Thrikkakara’s indirect vote on June 3. Thus, the celebrations seem for the moment suspended.