Homemaker shows the way

In Kerala where it is de rigueur for political parties to organise protests and blockades, the common man, popularly known as the 'aam aadmi' generally suffers in silence. Everybody avoids a confrontation, verbal or otherwise, with the protesters.

It is in this context that a lone but spunky homemaker's outburst at the LDF (Left Democratic Front) protesters and the police, who blocked her way recently, became riveting news. The coruscating fury of the forty-something housewife defanged the aggressive strikers and mellowed the cops.

Homemaker Sandhya Suresh was on her way back home after her school run when she found that the road to her rented house was blocked by protesters and barricades erected by the police. The way also leads to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's official residence, the Cliff House. The barricades were part of the cops' effort to buffer the 140-day LDF siege on the chief minister.

Sandhya burst out at both the protesters and the cops who denied her her right of way or freedom of movement enshrined in our constitution. She endured the verbal assault and taunts of the protesters but persisted in getting the way to her home cleared. In the process she was likened by the strikers to Saritha Nair of the solar scam fame. She was also termed a Congress stooge. In fine, the cops and the protesters were forced to reach a compromise by which a part of the way would be made available for the free movement of the local people.

It's an irony that the common people have had to fight for their fundamental rights over and over again in the world's largest democracy. The protesting leaders' argument is that the protest is for the good of the people and hence they have to endure the suffering. But the question is who determines what is good and what is bad for the people. Have the people given in writing to the protesters that the Cliff House blockade is for their good?

The LDF siege on the chief minister's residence is part of their state-wide yet fitful stir demanding his resignation. First of all, it's against democratic principles. It seems the Left leaders have parted company with logical thinking. They are well within their rights (though a touch off-beam) to poach a UDF constituent and thus topple the incumbent government. If that's not possible the best thing for them is to wait for the next assembly election. It's such a great load of piffle to demand that an elected government put away the paddle because of a solar scam which is in the court now.

Besides, the siege in front of the Cliff House is violative of the fundamental right of the chief minister and his family for free movement. 

Renowned writer M. Mukundan has wondered why the Left is not ready to learn the lesson after repeated setbacks over protests and strikes. It may be noted here that a recent much tom-tommed blockade of the secretariat involving thousands of Left workers bombed out and the leaders had to withdraw it clutching at the straw given by the government to save face.

The protests, black-flag demonstrations included, at the chief minister's mass-contact programmes haven't resonated with the people. Otherwise, the CM wouldn't have pulled such large crowds at every mass-contact programme.

V-Guard chairman Kochouseph Chittileppally has announced an award of Rs.500,000 for the intrepid home-maker in recognition of her courage in taking on the protesters and the police all by her lonesome. It's entirely another matter that Chittilepally was rubbished by some union leaders.

Sandhya got instant backing from members of a few residents' associations in the neighbourhood. Her success in getting a part of the road free of barricades proves that the common people can make the unions and parties to re-write their script on how to hold protests. The lesson of the episode: No protest should hinder the free living of the citizens.

Sandhya has, no doubt, inspired many people in the state. Several people have written in support of her valiant act. Over a lakh people praised her in the social media alone. In the process, she had to pay a price as well: she found her small plot of land vandalised with a few banana plants having been sliced down.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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