The people of Kerala are facing the 15th State Assembly elections on April 6. The left democratic front (LDF) led by headed by CPI(M) is trying to maintain the continuity of rule while the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Congress is trying to wrest power. The NDA front led by BJP is trying to improve its performance from earlier elections. The usual slogans – ‘continuity of rule’, ‘change for the better’, ‘new Kerala’, ‘development’ etc. are rending the air. That these slogans and promises have only a short life till the results are declared and that the people who fall victims to these promises are going to be fooled soon after is also a usual scene that we witness in our country.
To somehow wrest power, the three fronts are making all kinds of nefarious tactics like joining hands with religious, caste and communal forces, creating communal polarization, and so on. Disintegration within parties and reshuffle of alliances are continuing. Irrespective of party affiliations, all are seeking the blessings of community leaders and money bags. Ram temple and Sabarimala are the most important issues for all the fronts, not the burning issues of the people.
The decadence in the socio political atmosphere has been a serious concern for the democratically minded people. The rule of BJP at the Centre is leading the country to fascist darkness. With autocratic power and huge money power it is trying to silence the democratic conscience of the country. The leftist parties which were expected to resist this onslaught have instead become part and parcel of the ruling establishment and have been taking measures that accelerate this decadence. The political responsibility before the people in this election is to strengthen the democratic counter current to stem the rot.
In the election scenario the real fight is only between two forces – the camp of the ruling establishment representing the interest of the capitalist economic system and the camp of democratic movements representing the broad interests of the people. The mainstream political parties, the Congress, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, Muslim league, Kerala congress etc. are all part of the ruling camp, the apparent fight between them is only a shadow fight. Their fight is only for determining who should take over the governmental power. The economic system and the policies will remain the same whoever comes to power.
The capitalist forces with their money and media power do everything to eclipse the presence of the camp of people’s movement in the elections. Only by strengthening and making victorious the people’s movement the interest of the common masses can be protected. This is the prime task before the people in this election.
The NDA rule at the Centre for the last seven years has been of complete servitude to the monopolies and corporates. The natural resources of the country – forests, the sea, water, oil, etc. and the public sector establishments built with people’s sweat and labour are all being sold out to the corporates. This policy of globalization and privatization was initiated by the Congress in 1991. The BJP accelerated its implementation. The LDF in Kerala that ruled the state for the last five years has also been following the same path. In the name of ‘development’, the projects initiated by LDF government like the K-Rail, K-Phone etc. by taking huge loans disproportionate to the state’s income are going to land the state in great debt. These projects will not bring any improvement in the people’s lives but are meant for helping the corporates to amass huge profits.
The following are a few samples of the developmental projects of the LDF government. The K-Phone project in which the state govt is investing 1100 crores is a project for providing internet facility to homes through cables using the facilities of KSEB. This is essentially for providing basic infrastructure for internet providers like Jio and others by spending from the state’s exchequer.
The deep sea fishing contract with EMCC Global consortium that has become controversial recently is a project that would pave way for the corporates to grab the sea food resources at the cost of the small and traditional fishermen.
This way a number of such projects have been initiated by the LDF government in the last five years. The state’s seat of power in Thiruvananthapuram has become a den for consultancies and their agents. The proponent of rightist policies and a senior consultant of the World Bank, Gita Gopinath was the economic advisor to the Chief Minister. The reconstruction works after the heavy floods in 2018 had been given to the notorious firm KPMG. Several corruption charges have been raised regarding the reconstruction contracts.
The LDF govt through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has been promoting private investments in developmental projects. The KIIFB will take loans with government guarantee and invest in the projects. Any debt incurred will fall on the taxpayers’ head. This way it will lead the state into a debt trap. When the LDF govt came to power, the state’s debt was 1,60,638 crores and now when it is completing its term the debt has doubled to 3,01,642 crores. During the last five years, for paying interest alone the state spent 83,486 crores.
The LDF had come to power by giving the promise that within 100 days 5 lakh people will be given jobs. But presently the joblessness in the state has reached unprecedented levels. Even the existing vacancies in the government remain unfilled and disregarding the PSC rank list the government has been recruiting contract employees and making back door appointments. The suicide by a youth who was No.77 in the PSC rank list for the Civil Excise officer post indicates the extreme frustration the youths face.
Education is another area that has been converted for commercial exploitation in the state. In the last five years almost all the new educational institutions were started by private businessmen.
On labour rights, the situation is very dismal in the state. The 14.2 lakh unorganized workers in the state in private hospitals, schools, anganwadis, shops, domestic work etc. are not provided with the minimum wages to maintain their lives.
Liquor menace: When LDF came to power there were only 29 liquor bars in the state. Today the total number is 565. The rule that liquor shops should be located at a minimum distance of 200 metres from schools, temples etc. was reduced to 50 m by the LDF govt.
The attacks on women and children are growing more than ever. The approach of the government and the police department is very discouraging in taking preventive measures. The one case of the killings of two young girls in Walayar is enough to demonstrate the approach of the government. In this case instead of giving protection to the victims the government has been giving protection to the police officials who wilfully colluded with the criminals. Incidentally, the mother of the children Smt. Bhagyavathy out of frustration with the government and police has filed nomination in Dharmadam assembly constituency where the chief minister Mr Pinarayi Vijayan is contesting.
What has been stated in the above paragraphs is only a glimpse of the dismal situation in the state. While the people in the state are reeling under innumerable problems facing their lives, all the three electoral fronts are only harping on the magic word ‘development’. But they do not spell whose development. The ‘development’ they speak of are only construction activities for increasing the profits of the corporates. It has nothing to do with the improvement of living conditions of the people such as livelihood, health care, education etc. It is also a fact of history that our society is class divided and no government can ensure the development of both the capitalist class and the common masses at the same time. It is the duty of a genuine left government to stand by the people which the LDF has miserably failed and that has helped the reactionary forces to grow in the state.
Whom to vote? On the question of whom to vote there is only one answer, that is to vote for those who stand for building democratic mass movements to safeguard the broad interest of the common masses. Only through mass movements, people will acquire the necessary social consciousness to fight the darkness surrounding their lives. The SUCI(C) candidates are committed to this stand and are engaged in various people’s movements in the state – the K-Rail movement, the PSC rank holders movement , the ASHA workers movement etc. to name a few. They have also been working strenuously for the last several months in gathering support for the historic farmers struggle in Delhi. The SUCI(C) is contesting in 36 constituencies in Kerala.