Kerala 'marches' to polls
Those who feel that political parties in Kerala have failed to uphold values in politics in recent times should catch up with one of the Yatras that is taking place in Kerala. All these Yatras strive to save people in God's Own Country from corruption, nepotism and all social evils that are plaguing the literate state.
Not only the parties are upholding values, they are also into a mission mode with a loud and clear message - to liberate the masses and set a development roadmap for Kerala. But how will they achieve it? The solution to the conundrum is simple. For UDF that is mired in sleazy solar scam and bar bribery row, another five-year term will set the course for 'Jana Raksha' as the march led by KPCC president VM Sudheeran is named.
For CPM, which organised many a protest in the last couple of years, including the secretariat siege to oust Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, it is LDF's return to power that will lay the foundation for “Nava Kerala” (New Kerala), hence the march led by CPM politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan. And for the BJP it is the liberation of people from UDF and LDF for which the BJP president Kummanam Rajashekaran, handpicked by Amit Shah and Co., is leading “Vimochana Yatra,” (Liberation March).
The season of marches was kicked off by SNDP president Vellappally Natesan, who floated his own party 'Bharath Dharma Jana Sena' (BDJS). The march hogged the limelight with its “Samthava Munnetam” or equal progress slogan, wherein Natesan 'sincerely' pointed to the caste discrimination on the part of the government in distributing government aid. He said only Muslims get due assistance from the government when they die and “one should die as a Muslim to get some benefit.” Police registered a case of hate speech but stopped short of arresting him as it would have accorded him the much-needed political martyrdom he was so desperately looking for.
The UDF government also wanted Natesan to make more 'progressive' speeches on equality as it would also cast a shadow on the prospects of BJP growth plans in the state. Apparently, BJP was trying to woo SNDP, under the impression that it has a major say among the Ezhava vote bank in the state. BJP leader V Muraleedharan was also present when the march started off from Kasaragod. The Samthava Munnetta Yatra has concluded but other marches are still criss-crossing in state.
Joining the big brother Congress in the UDF, Muslim League has come up with its 'Kerala Yatra' of which PK Kunahlikutty is the captain. And CPI has launched 'Janakeeya Yatra' led by party state secretary Kanam Rajendran. Not to be left behind, other parties also jumped in the Yatra bandwagon - BSP with “Bheem Ratha Yatra”, INL with Jana Jagrata Yatra and NCP with Unarthu Yatra led by Uzhavoor Vijayan.
The time-tested practice of marches being taken out is nothing new in Kerala as UDF, LDF and BJP had taken similar marches in 2011 ahead of the assembly polls. But this time around it is record of sorts with many other parties joining in. A meme that was doing the rounds in Facebook was apparently of people waiting in bus station and asking for the time of the next Yatra.
One of the main parties that did not organise a march across the state was Kerala Congress (M), but instead, its de facto second-in-command Jose K Mani MP staged an indefinite hunger strike championing the cause of rubber farmers in the state. The fast also drew good media attention even in social media for all the right and wrong reasons.
As the state has been inundated with marches of various hues, solar scandal fame Saritha Nair returned to occupy prime time television studios with her volley of allegations against the government, virtually giving a commercial break to the successful run of bar owner Biju Ramesh's bar bribery revelations. In the week, Monday was most hectic. In the morning, Biju Ramesh pointed his accusing fingers at two more ministers after leveling similar charges earlier against two other ministers for taking bribe, while afternoon session was reserved for Saritha who started chasing the chums of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, including his close aide Benny Behanan MLA.
Not only she revealed the names she also substantiated her claims by submitting copies of CDs to Solar Commission. Within an hour, all channels started airing the contents of the CD, making Saritha emerge as the winner in the afternoon session. But as usual the day ended like any other day - Chandy stealing the show again with his swift political maneuverings and his signature statement that 'people know it all'.
The entire bar bribery imbroglio and solar scam have taken the shine off all the Yatras that are taking place in the state. But it also gave enough ammunition to the opposition parties which have resumed discussing liquor and women in public rallies. As the marches of political parties are progressing at various levels so are the allegations against the ruling UDF government.
When the marches finish, a clear picture on scams is also poised to evolve. Kerala, the land of Ayurveda, is relishing the rejuvenating therapy from the part of political parties for sure as it knows that it will take another five years for them to march again to save the people in the state from social evils. And for political parties, they will have to wait till the polls to know who emerged winner in the 2016-march saga.