Kerala left high and dry
Kerala, which is still reeling under the devastating defeat suffered by the ‘state-friendly’ Manmohan Singh government, has no one but itself to blame for the plight it is in.
Kerala BJP leaders are saying that the state is paying the penalty for stopping the ‘Modi wave’ which washed over the rest of the country. Senior BJP leader O Rajagopal, who came within an ace of winning from Thiruvananthapuram and creating history, made no secret of his unhappiness at the BJP being meted out a raw deal by the voters of Kerala.
The net result: The state, which had as many as eight ministers in the Manmohan government, has no representation in the Modi government. The only consolation for the state, which bucked the national trend by standing by the Congress, is that the new prime minister’s assurance to a delegation from Kerala who met him a few days back that the State won’t be discriminated against simply because it voted against the BJP.
Another silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud is that two ministers from the neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, D V Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan respectively, are Kerala-friendly. Both Gowda and Radhakrishnan speak fluent Malayalam and have close ties with the Malayalis and the Kerala BJP leaders who hope that they would do their bit for the development of the state!
While the secular camp is keeping its fingers crossed over the kind of treatment Kerala would get from the Modi government, the environmentalists and ecologists are looking forward to the change in government with renewed hope. They feel that the new BJP government, which has promised to implement the Madhav Gadgil report on preservation of the Western Ghats, would keep its promise and save the State from ecological destruction. Likewise, the state is also hoping that the Modi government would not give the green signal to the Aranmula airport project, opposed by most of the parties including the BJP. In fact, the BJP was an active participant in the people’s agitation against the project spearheaded by eminent poetess, Sugathakumari.
What the state must do is to free itself from the political inhibitions of the past and strive for a good and harmonious relation with the Modi government in the best spirit of federalism which animates the Indian Constitution.
Past record proves, if proof were needed, that the existence of ideologically similar governments at the Centre and the states need not make for faster development. Just one stance would illustrate the point. Despite there being a friendly government at the Centre, Kerala’s prestigious rail coach factory project at Kanjikkode in Palakkad district still remains on paper. Similarly, the Manmohan government simply refused to concede the state’s long-standing demand for an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) on flimsy grounds!
This is in marked contrast to the manner in which the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front Government went out of the way to cooperate with the Central government and succeeded in getting many central, especially defence projects for the state.
Kerala must learn a lesson from these incidents and establish a working relationship with the Modi Government. Modi being a quintessentially development-oriented politician is unlikely to allow his ideological opposition to cloud his judgment when it comes to sanctioning projects for a BJP-hostile Kerala. The task is cut out for the Oommen Chandy Government. Can it measure up to the challenge? The whole of Kerala is waiting for a positive outcome.