The Left Democratic Front government led by Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala is entering its fifth year at a critical time with Kerala, India and even the entire world going through a health and economic crisis. On the occasion of the government's anniversary, the chief minister held a press conference where he said confidently that even amidst the crisis caused by natural disasters and infectious diseases, his government was able to fulfil the promises given to the people, that most of the items listed for five years were completed within four years, and that development of Kerala was not allowed to be hampered by two floods and the diseases.
The achievements highlighted by Pinarayi Vijayan were: Gail pipeline and national highway expansion became a reality, the gains of UDF within five years were surpassed by this government in four years; public sector undertakings which were red during the previous government, got a turnaround into profitable ones and Kerala Bank and Kerala Administrative Service came into being. On the other hand, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media persons that this is a government that could not make any gains whatsoever in the four years it ruled. He criticised that nepotism, corruption, extravagance and overspending, PSC scams, series of political murders and inefficiency were the hallmarks of the LDF government. He said there are no major projects and alleged that when the UDF government left office, the debt of Kerala was Rs 1,57,370.34 Crore which grew to Rs 2,49,559.34 Crore within three and a half years; an additional tax burden of Rs 4,663.40 Crore was slapped on the people. There were moves, scientifically planned ones he said, of corruption as seen in Sprinklr, brewery, marks scam, transgrid; and then despite the stark financial crisis there is no let up in extravagance, and four additional cabinet-rank positions were created. So went the criticism by Ramesh Chennithala.
It is nothing but customary in the current democratic narratives, for the ruling party to make claims about exclusive achievements and for the opposition to deny them all and pick holes in the government's functioning. Democrary in India is not used to a healthy scene of the treasury bench owning up failures and mistakes from its side or the Opposition acknowledging the plus side of the government even when objectively pointing out its failings. Given this backdrop, neither the claims of the chief minister nor the negative pronouncements of Chennithala are unnatural. However, those who do not take sides will have achievements to point out and failures that need to be highlighted during the four years of LDF rule. And it is imperative to do this in the interest of the state's future. The LDF government has had to face adverse factors right from an economic recession that pre-existed, and an inconsiderate attitude of an extremely rightist Centre together with the floods in two consecutive years coupled with the spread of Nipah-Covid virus. If even in the midst of such factors, the government has been able to hold out and to rise to the expectation of the people to a certain extent, that is no mean feat. And there is no reason either to dismiss as bogus the development projects put forward by the government for the remaining one year of its term. If the co-operation of all sections of people can be ensured, the government can overcome the disastrous impact of Covid and ensure the rebuilding of Kerala. What we witnessed during the times of floods and Covid are exemplary models of humanity, brotherhood and amity cutting across religious and political differences. During the flood, people of all denominations lined up, together with the government, to rescue fellow human beings who had lost lives and everything in the flood, and to rehabilitate them. Government employees and law and order machinery sprung into action, ably assisted by residents and expatriates alike. Youths plunged into rescue operations risking their lives. Currently, even when the Covid threat is looming large, the world is able to see a repetition of that. Along with the gains in health care sector of enlightened Kerala, the declaration that it will not give in at the face of tragedies, won for Kerala a reputation of being a model populace.
However, if all these gains are claimed as that of any particular front or party, no one with sense and wisdom would accept that. All the same, it would be ungrateful to deny that the government on its part has been able to prove its capacity to rise to the occasion. When rebuilding Kerala is once again on the agenda, an attitude of party-based bias or moves with the sole motive of making political gains or narrow-minded agenda will not help – that will even be destructive - for building a post-Covid Kerala, especially for the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of returnees or the lakhs of people rendered jobless. The single agenda of both the ruling front and the Opposition should be, beyond winning the upcoming elections, development that surpasses adverse situations and overcomes constraints.