People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 21

June 02,2002



One Year of UDF Government


Pinarayi Vijayan


THE first year of the Congress-led United Democratic Front government in Kerala may be called, in every sense, a year of reversal and retardation. And it must be said to the UDF’s credit that it has exhibited utmost efficiency in effecting this reversal.




For instance, there was not a single communal riot or even communal disturbance in Kerala during the Left Democratic Front rule. But riots in Marad, Pathanamthitta and Thaikkal stained the face of Kerala, within a very short span of time in the last one year. The reason: ruling UDF parties’ patronage to communal elements.


During the five years of LDF government, there was not a single lock-up killing by the police. Under the UDF rule, the police took eight valuable lives in lock-up.


The LDF government's policy for power sector in the state was on its way to putting an end to load shedding and to convert Kerala into a power-surplus state. But the UDF bandwagon lost not a moment to take Kerala back to the days of power-cuts and load shedding. 


The LDF government maintained an employee-friendly atmosphere in the state and granted all legitimate rights due to its employees. The UDF sowed seeds of unrest among employees within a short while.


To maintain a peaceful educational atmosphere, the LDF government saw to it that the police did not wreak havoc in colleges in any case. But the UDF regime let loose the police in many college campuses within days of its take-over. The police committed most heinous atrocities in University College, Thiruvananthapuram.


The UDF regime has also reversed the updated syllabi of the schools and went back to the outdated syllabi that stand rejected by civilised societies the world over. The mode of instruction was reversed to the old teacher-centered system from the new child-centered system that was being successfully implemented throughout Kerala.


The local governing bodies were denied their due share. This has crippled the People’s Plan that was acclaimed the world over as a development mode for the developing and underdeveloped societies. The LDF’s meaningful attempts towards decentralisation were foiled and all powers centralised in the hands of UDF bigwigs. 


Industrial sector is suffering from an acute power shortage, leading to lockouts, slowdown and under-production. Traditional industries are facing closure due to the UDF policies. Peasants are facing an acute fall in the prices of their produce and hence impoverishment. In the name of user charges, increased power tariffs and travel fares have been imposed upon the people, along with additional tax burdens. The job situation has worsened with the threatened ban on fresh appointments.


Thus all spheres of life in Kerala are witnessing a perilous reversal, with an unprecedented disregard for development. The UDF is out to give up all development projects. So is it giving up all welfare schemes on the plea that they are unproductive. In a span of 12 months, the UDF has thus reversed the growth trajectory that Kerala had taken to since its birth in 1956. 




The UDF leaders are themselves not sure whether their government would satisfy any section of the people.  Chief minister Antony said he was not satisfied with his government’s performance. But if the chief minister is not satisfied, who would be? So asked Karunakaran, the Congress patriarch in Kerala. The UDF’s parliamentary affairs minister had no claim to make on completion of one year of UDF rule. 


However, these admissions are being made not in sincerity but to malign the LDF as responsible for their mal-administration. They say they are unable to do anything due to the financial crisis the LDF created. They are thus evading responsibility for the last one year, and will possibly do so for the next four years. The alleged financial crisis is thus a way to run away from all developmental activities, to kill the welfare schemes and to sell out the public sector undertakings to their financiers.


There is no denying that there were certain financial difficulties and the LDF faced the polls before it could solve them. The UDF exploited the situation during the election campaign to mislead the people. But one year has elapsed since they came back to power, and they are still using the allegedly LDF-created “crisis” as an excuse for their inefficiency and anti-people policies.  


But who expects honesty from the UDF leadership! They are spreading the canard of a financial crisis also to surrender to the anti-people and anti-Kerala provisions dictated by the Asian Development Bank. They are pushing Kerala into a veritable debt trap, retarding the state’s growth, killing its self-reliance and pushing it back to the old days of rampant exploitation. 




The gravest danger the UDF has posed to Kerala in the last one year is the communalisation of political power. Antony acted as a humble servant of the caste and communal forces on all decisive occasions. It is well known that Antony & Co came to power not because the UDF had sufficient political backing. It got 47 per cent of the votes polled because of the overt and covert assistance from communal forces like the PDP, and also the BJP, that collaborated with the UDF to oust the secular, democratic and Left forces from power. One of the main items in the UDF agenda is thus to appease the caste and communal forces.


Kerala has so far not sent any BJP man to its legislature. It is an established norm in every state that only parties represented in the assembly are invited to the formal meetings. But Antony violated this norm and began to invite the BJP to formal meetings summoned by the government, giving political sanctity to the BJP in Kerala. This same man had supported in early 1990s the BJP-RSS argument that the minorities should live as per the pleasure of the majority community. This is democracy, he had then said at a public forum in a function to commemorate late Mathai Manjooran. Antony is the only non-BJP chief minister who did not speak a word against the Narendra Modi regime in Gujarat. He entrusted one of his cabinet colleagues to invite Advani to Kerala. He is the only non-BJP chief minister who did not take part in the conference convened by West Bengal chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya on saffronisation of education. Rather, he went to the extent of criticising that conference by shamelessly saying that the word saffronisation is being used in such a way as to wound the Hindu sentiments. He is trying to appease the BJP on the one hand and the caste and communal forces in Kerala on the other. But in the process he has lost control over the law and order situation in the state. Kerala society had to pay a very heavy price for this shameless policy of Antony --- in Marad, Thaikkal and Pathanamthitta.




The chief minister’s desire to appease the BJP has led to the loss of many of the state’s rights, as he refrained from asking for what is due to Kerala from the centre. Antony goes to Delhi frequently but only humbly submits memoranda to the prime minister and issues press releases that he is satisfied with the centre’s attitude. Take an example. Orissa got Rs 500 crore from the centre to face a grim flood situation. Kerala too witnessed a grim flood situation, but got nothing as relief from the centre. Kerala also lost a huge Rs 3,665 crore because of inefficiency of the Antony regime, as the amount recommended by the Finance Commission was arbitrarily reduced. During his stay at Kumarakom, the prime minister proclaimed a package for Kerala. But it was only a deception. The state government too did not argue to get what was promised.


Antony’s servility reached its height in his decision to sign a memorandum of understanding with the centre, which many states, including West Bengal, have refused to sign. The main points of this MoU are perilous to the states’ interests. They include the privatisation of public units, retrenchments, reduction of the employees’ rights, an end to subsidies, etc, all to the detriment of the people’s interests. Is Antony doing all this because he came to power by four lakh-odd votes that the BJP ‘lost’ in the elections? 




Taking the legislature into confidence is a basic rule of democracy. But the UDF regime has time and again violated it. Many important policy decisions were taken by ignoring the legislature, even when it was in sitting. This was done even regarding the ADB loan that is going to adversely affect the people in many ways. The chief minister and the finance minister time and again stated that the transaction would be 100 per cent transparent. But so far the legislature has been kept in dark about the loan and the attached conditionalities. The cabinet, especially chief minister, is very particular that the legislature is not informed of the details in any case. The legislature was kept in the dark about the abkari policy too. Electricity and bus charges were hiked within days of conclusion of an assembly session. The IT and labour policies were publicised outside the assembly. In spite of its brute majority, the government is afraid of an assembly discussion. The Malayalam version of the budget text has no reference whatsoever to the conditionalities of abject surrender to the ADB, while they are all numbered one by one in the English version. A clear attempt to cheat the people.


The government even had the temerity to publish the governor’s address with such references and points as were even mentioned when the governor was addressing the assembly. What was published was much different from what the governor had said.




The Kerala ministers’ relatives and friends have grabbed the Sholay forests of Mathikettan Mala. One of the rarest forests in the world, they had to be protected by legislation and the government was duty-bound to convert the ordinance issued by the LDF government, to take over 25,000 acres of forest lands under government control, into a law. But the UDF regime postponed the enacting of the Kerala forests bill 2001 to enable their financiers to grab the forest lands for cardamom and cannabis cultivation.


Despite Antony’s promise to convert the ordinance into a law without any alteration, the bill was presented to the assembly only at the fag end of its session. Then, in a deliberate move on part of the government, it was sent to the Select Committee. The delay caused the ordinance to lapse, enabling the forest mafia to grab as much land as possible till a law is enacted. This is in sharp contrast to the haste the regime displayed to pass the bill to privatise road construction; this bill was not sent to the Select Committee. 


To twist the assembly proceedings to favour the vested interests, especially the forest mafia, three opposition members were arbitrarily suspended from the assembly. The Kerala assembly then created a dubious precedent of completing a day’s proceedings in a record four minutes.


(To Be Continued)