People's Democracy

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


No. 23

June 05, 2011




Revolts Begin, Turbulent Days Ahead for UDF


N S Sajith


NOT one even among leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala can hope a bright future for their front, as revolts from various alliance partners began right since the formation of a new government. The disillusionment of several leaders after the allocation of ministerial berths adds to the worries of the ruling front which is now walking on a tight rope.


The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has already clarified its stand to function as a responsible opposition. Soon after the assembly elections, CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and former chief minister V S Achuthanandhan had made it clear that the LDF would not indulge in any horse trading. At the same time, the LDF decided to contest for the speaker and deputy speaker posts.


Former KPCC president and Congress stalwart K Karunakaran’s son, K Muralidharan, fired the first salvo with his boycott of the swearing-in ceremony for 13 ministers of the new government. Muralidharan, who was denied a ministerial berth, virulently reacted by saying that he was not attending the swearing-in ceremony as nobody had informed him about it. He announced the decision to boycott at Kozhikode.  


“I am one among the 72 elected members of UDF. Nobody informed me and I came to know about the function through media. Nobody found time to invite me. I waited till yesterday night,” he said after a reception given him by Congress workers at Kozhikode. He angrily told the media that he was not aware of why he was denied a ministerial berth and who had played what game against him. He also indicated that he knew the Nair Service Society was in favour of his elevation to the minister’s post.  


Muralidharan expressed his disappointment strongly and emotionally by citing the alleged misbehaviour on part of Congress leaders towards his father, K Karunakaran, who was once the chief minister of Kerala. “Those who had thrown Karunakaran’s portrait to the sewage were also made ministers,” he added. Through this statement, Muralidharan hit the newly appointed minister, C N Balakrishnan, who staunchly opposed K Karunakaran during the chaotic days of group wars within the Congress.


The allocation of ministries is still a cause of worry for the UDF. Though the nine-seat strong unified Kerala Congress led by K M Mani demanded three ministerial berths, it got just two. The Muslim League was given four seats. The surprise announcement of Muslim League of ‘nominating’ a member as fifth minister brought embarrassment to all. The Muslim League is still sticking to its stand that it must have a fifth minister as well. League leaders have expressed their desire to get the parliamentary affairs portfolio for its fifth minister.  


Kunhalikkutty of the Muslim League said his party’s fifth minister, Manjalamkuzhi Ali, would take charge later. Now there is no scope for a discussion regarding the fifth minister and those who had any doubts in this regard might ask the UDF convener, Kunhalikkutty said in Thiruvananthapuram.


Succumbing to the pressure of 20-seat strong Muslim League, the Congress has decided to trifurcate the portfolio of local self- government. But this move too invited protest from various quarters. Even some Congress leaders openly criticised it and said the decision only intended to accommodate more ministers from Muslim League. Manjalamkuzhi Ali’s name was proposed for an additional portfolio.


In the meanwhile, Congress MLA P C Vishnunath has demanded bifurcation of education department. The number of UDF ministers now is 20. The possible maximum number of ministers is 21.


P C George, a legislator from Kerala Congress, single-handedly started a revolt for getting the speaker’s post but he got disappointed as the Congress proposed the former minister G Karthikeyan’s name for the post. George has already announced that he would not consent to any post apart from the speaker’s. The lack of support from K M Mani for this endeavour also worries George. He clarified that he was not willing to accept the deputy speaker’s post offered to him. “Accepting the deputy speaker’s post is equal to death,” he said. George’s party, Kerala Congress (Secular), was previously with the LDF and then, along with the Kerala Congress (Joseph) led by P J Joseph, former PWD minister, merged with the Kerala Congress (Mani) before the elections.


Tremors followed after the cabinet expansion deepened the wounds of many. Senior leader V M Sudheeran said efficiency was not a criterion in the selection of ministers, adding that the decision to exclude V D Satheesan was disastrous. Sudheeran’s reaction came in the backdrop of former KPCC president K Muralidharan’s boycott of the swearing-in ceremony.


The selection of Congress ministers was mainly on the basis of caste and communal considerations. The public statement by leaders of the caste organisations of Nairs and Ezhavas for ministerial posts has been considered a rampant violation of the democratic ethos.


The Congress legislators who were denied berths also came down heavily on the leadership. V D Satheeshan, MLA from Paravur in Eranakulam district, openly criticised the leadership for choosing the ministers on the basis of castes they belonged to. There is something dubious behind the selection of some first-time MLAs as ministers. Efficiency and capability were not the criteria for the selection, Satheeshan added.


T N Prathapan, MLA, vehemently attacked KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala as being responsible for the setback in the recent elections. Compared to the local bodies elections held in 2010, the UDF lost heavily in the assembly polls. Chennithala cannot escape the responsibility as he selected the Congress candidates. Those who led in the elections must be answerable for the setback, Prathapan said. Involvement of caste leaders in fixing the ministries set a wrong precedence, he said.


In the midst of this chaotic atmosphere, a disappointed union defence minister and senior Congress leader, A K Antony, advised the United Democratic Front government to follow the path of the previous LDF government for the development of Kerala. He said so while addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone for the Coast Guard Academy at Irinavu in Kannur district. 


The erstwhile LDF government was eager to synergise their efforts with the union defence ministry for the industrial development of the state. The LDF’s flawless efforts brought six major industrial units to the state. There was no hostility between the LDF government and defence ministry, and former industrial minister Elamaram Kareem’s approach was highly laudable, Antony acknowledged.


When the construction of Ezhimala naval academy dragged for many months, the LDF government extended all cooperation for commissioning the project. If the new government is ready to follow this approach, the union defence ministry would definitely reciprocate, Antony said.




The CPI(M)’s Kerala state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has said that despite the caste and religious organisations standing against it, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has put up an excellent performance in the recently concluded assembly elections. This election proved that this kind of interference would not be able to decimate the Left, he said in a press conference after the two day long CPI(M) state committee meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on May 26 to review the outcome of the elections.


According to Pinarayi, the state committee meeting analysed the performance of the LDF in the elections and concluded that it was excellent. The LDF got 68 seats and came close to a victory while the front lost three seats --- Azheekode, Piravam and Parassala --- by a total of just 1155 votes. In these constituencies, the BJP suffered drastic erosion of votes which got transferred to the UDF.


The intensity of the interference of the caste and religious forces was varied in this election. Some Christian organisations which stood explicitly against LDF during the Lok Sabha elections, had not taken an open stand in this election. There were no parish circulars from these organisations. But leaders of Nair Service Society (NSS), an organisation of the Nair community, came out openly after the election with the claim that they had worked for the UDF. A Muslim organisation, which pretended to be supportive of the LDF, had also worked for UDF.


The LDF’s excellent performance in the elections was on account of good track record of the LDF government, the total unity in the alliance and the preparatory work that it had done by organising two LDF jathas. The corruption scandals against the Congress damaged its image at the national and state levels. The scandal involving UDF leaders and the arrest of R Balakrishnapillai glaringly brought out the battered image of the UDF in the election. The campaign trial by national leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI and the crowds that V S Achuthanandan could gather also helped the LDF, he said.


The UDF, Pinarayi said, has become a confederation of the caste and communal forces. The new government is going to be controlled by external powers. The lone criterion for the selection of ministers is caste. This trend is harmful for the state of Kerala, Pinarayi he said.