- Abhish K Bose,Kottayam
Oomen Chandy, 77, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala speaks with this Correspondent in an interview in which he delves into various contemporary issues being debated in the elections. A candidate himself at the Puthupally constituency in Kottayam district he is busy campaigning for the UDF by travelling across the state braving his health issues. In a freewheeling interview the leader reflected on almost all contentious issues in the state including the stand of the LDF government in the Sabarimala women entry issue, the corruption allegations against the LDF government and the allegations against himself by the Solar case complainant to mention a few.
Q What is your assessment of the LDF government governing the state for the past five years?
A – Every government which came to power in Kerala can boast of their own achievements in the realm of development. K Karunakaran can take pride in the Nedumbassery airport, Kaloor Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, to name a few. Regarding the case of AK Antony he can stake claim of the introduction of the self financing Colleges in the state, and various other developmental initiatives in Thiruvananthapuram. What is the claim of this government in the realm of development? The LDF in fact delayed and hindered the developmental initiatives brought in by the previous UDF government. The Karunya benevolent fund which was welcomed by the people of the state with much enthusiasm helped the poor people to undergo treatment. The Karunya lottery was stopped. This means that the government didn’t took any effort to salvage the sufferings of the poor people of the state. The LDF governments tenure was a period in which lacked any facilities to understand the difficulties of the poor people.
Though the opposition levelled serious corruption allegations against the state government they lightened all the allegations. Though Ramesh Chennithala raised these allegations they tried to insult him. Finally they were forced to accept that all of the allegations raised by Ramesh were true. They were forced to demand investigations from the central agencies.
Q, The LDF is raising an allegation that the central agencies such as Customs and the Enforcement Directorate are acting on the behest of the Union government so as to target them?
A– It was the LDF themselves demanded the central agencies to investigate the case. The government has failure in all realms and the allegations which were levelled against them were an insult to the state.
Q, In the context of the surveys which says about an imminent electoral setback to the UDF in the assembly elections what is your take on the subject?
A– I have no ill will due to the setbacks prophesied by the surveys. I am in fact welcoming the surveys since the surveys have energized the UDF activists. I myself have experienced the energy level of the activists before and after the surveys in various parts of the state. The biggest thing is that the surveys helped to bring the UDF activists to an alert level which were not possible by us. In that way I am indebted for the surveys.
Q, The opposition had approached the Election Commision against the LDF government giving the kits ahead of the elections. Is there any fault in giving the kit at this time ?
A – There is no fault in giving the kits. The opposition leader has opposed the decision to give the kits which were meant to give earlier, however which was postponed and giving now.
Q, What were the lessons you have learned from the tenure of the previous UDF government (2011- 2016) while you were the Chief Minister. Some among the members of your personal staff were removed as a punitive measure. What precautions do you take this time if UDF comes to power to avoid such things
A – Three members of the personal staff were removed from the position following the report that they have spoken over phone with a lady. No other charges were raised against them by anyone even for the sake of allegations. Since the allegations came to the line that the concerned persons spoke over telephone we decided that no one in the shadow of doubt should be in the position we removed them.
Q, Who will be the Chief Minister once the UDF comes into power?
A – The Congress will not select Chief Minister before the elections. The Congress high command will declare the Chief Minister once the election results were declared. The Congress has a system for selecting the CM and that system will be followed.
Q, The serious allegations against the LDF leaders including the Speaker are revealed in the secret statement of Swapna Suresh
A– The investigation is ongoing into the incident. Let it happen so. I will not speak on an incident I am not aware of.
Q, The Solar case complainant is again raising the allegations ahead of the assembly elections. What is your opinion?
A – I have no compunction in that matter. She had gone to various places with the allegations and everywhere she is receiving responses against her.
Q, Who is the main opponent of Congress party in the state. Is it BJP or CPM the main rival of the Congress party. The question is in the contest of charges that the Congress had fielded K Muralidharan a formidable candidate against Kummanam Rajasekaran of BJP at Nemam the sitting seat of BJP. However, in the CMs constituency of Dharmadom a comparatively less popular leader was fielded it is alleged?
A – There is no compromise on the opposition against the BJP. BJP is the chief enemy of the country. Our country cannot agree with the ideas of the BJP. There is no doubt regarding that issue.
Q, Lathika Subash, the former Mahila Congress state president had resigned her membership from the Congress party and tonsured her head in front of the KPCC office. Do you think that Congress had shown justice to her?
A – Her stand was that she would contest only at one seat. It was an adamant stand from her part. Since ours is an alliance front once we have given a seat to an ally, shall we get it back. If it were any other seat we could have reached at a decision. Regarding the Ettumanur seat it was decided to give to another ally. There was no decision or insistence from anyone’s part that the seat should not be given to her. She was the president of the Mahila Congress and there was an interest to give seat to her. Her stand is not applicable in an alliance politics. She is asking that KSU state president is given seat. The first seat which was sought by the KSU state president was not given to him and as the second option the current seat was given to him.
Q, Regarding the EMCC agreement the Chief Ministers initial stand was that the agreement was not signed with his consent. However, reports contrary to it were being coming out of late
A – It has come to the light that none of the words of CM were correct and Ramesh Chennithala’s stand were proved correct. The people are watching the denial by the authorities and later bowing head before when the truth comes out.
Q, Does the stand of the LDF in the Sabarimala women entry issue comes as favourable to them?
A– Does the LDF has a stand. Are they not taking an inconsistent stand? When the SC verdict came they welcomed it. Then they said that they will implement the SC verdict. They also tried to implement the verdict by using force. Then they formed women’s wall and when setback came they decided to change. Let me ask about the occurred issues at Sabarimala. However, currently there are no issues at Sabarimala. The SC verdict haven’t changed. The verdict of the SC is still standing. What has changed is the stand of the government. Currently there are no issues since they are not sending the police so as to facilitate the entry of women.
Q, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala is saying that there is a possibility of wide spread bogus voting in the state?
A – The Election Commission too has accepted that allegations. It is a very serious issue. We expect that it will be taken with utmost seriousness and actions will be taken.
Q, Could you please tell about the impact of Rahul Gandhi MPs road show?
A – It gets tremendous public support.
Q, How do you perceive the chances of the UDF in the upcoming assembly elections?
A– The pre election activities of the UDF is ongoing with the confidence that UDF will emerge victorious. The election manifesto of the UDF is prepared on the basis of visiting every district and a comprehensive discussion was conducted under the leadership of Sasi Tharoor. The manifesto itself is accepting the Nyay project of Rahul Gandhi.