Debating India


"Chandy regime has lost secular character"

Saturday 30 April 2005, by MENON*Girish

I don’t want a Congress split but the CM’s unilateral way has imposed it on `I’ group: Muraleedharan

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K. Muraleedharan.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Expelled Congress leader K. Muraleedharan has said that the Oommen Chandy Government has lost its secular democratic character.

In an interview to The Hindu , Mr. Muraleedharan said that the UDF Government under A. K. Antony and now under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had failed to tackle communal tensions in the State. He said K. Karunakaran had his own political postures that had attracted a large following and this had been proved time and again, the latest being the three rallies the faction conducted.

He alleged that the State administration was in the hands of a caucus that had links to the liquor and sand mining mafia. The decision to shelve the Kottayam-Erumeli rail line, for example, had been taken mainly on account of the pressure by large plantation owners in central Travancore. The Centre had sanctioned the rail line following intense pressure by Kerala MPs cutting across political affiliation.

When asked about an imminent split in the Congress, Mr. Muraleedharan said he did not want it, but Mr. Chandy’s unilateral ways of functioning has imposed it on the "I" group. "Mr. Chandy and the AICC general secretary, Ahmed Patel, are solely responsible for the current situation. Today, there is no scope for settlement as we have moved far apart. A settlement and restoration of unity would not do anyone any good," he said.

He alleged that a coterie of AICC leaders had misled the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. The same coterie had mismanaged the affairs of the party in Bihar and other States, he charged.

UPA model alliance

To a question, he said that the proposed new party would forge an UPA-model alliance in the State. When asked how this would be possible given the fact that the coalition system in Kerala was different, he said that the situation was changing fast, with majority and minority communalism emerging as a main area of concern. In several constituencies, the BJP has improved its standing, while the NDA got a representation through P.C. Thomas even though it could be termed as a backdoor entry.

The CPI (M) had also changed a great deal. The party’s politics for the last few decades revolved around strong anti-Congressism. It has now come forward to support the Congress, he said, denying that the anti-Marxist bias of the "I" group supporters would come in the way. "We understand the changes that are taking place in the polity. We would fine tune our positions accordingly." He had no doubts that the official group under Mr. Chandy would be rendered irrelevant in the coming days.

When asked whether he would initiate talks with the LDF soon, Mr. Muraleedharan said that the "I" faction would decide its course of action soon, but it had to get the organisational infrastructure in place. "But we have a slot in the Left secular democratic politics of the State," he said.

He did not subscribe to the view that a split in the Congress would lead to the emergence of the BJP and its feeders. "The left secular alliance would be able to overcome this threat," he said.

Costly decision

When asked whether his confrontation with Mr. Chandy was part of a power struggle, Mr. Muraleedharan replied in the negative stating that the charge was redundant as he had now decided to part ways.

He said he was conscious about the uphill task before him. "The immediate task is the re-establishment of the loss of credibility on account of my decision to join the Antony Government. With hindsight, it was a costly decision, but I had to given in to all round pressures, including several of the MLAs who recently left the group," he added.

When asked why the UDF constituents had not taken the initiative to avert a split, Mr. Muraleedharan said that most of the constituents were unhappy. Some of them such as the CMP, the JSS and the IUML did not have any options, as they were basically opposed to the Marxist party. But these parties are living with a sense of insecurity. Those who had set out to settle problems in the Congress were now living with their complaints against the Chief Minister, he added.

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