The way Kerala's UDF (United Democratic Front) government muddles along, overwhelmed as it is by crisis after existential crisis, anybody is bound to have a patina of doubt if it will see out its term or collapse midstream.
A three-seat majority means that the government needs to keep its eye on the ball all the time. Any teeny-weeny party in the coalition government can pose a serious threat to
It is a basic, unwritten principle of a coalition government that its constituents have to work in synergy not only to offset any baleful opposition strategy but also to find solutions to the bread and butter issues of the people. When the coalition partners go off the track for whatever reasons, the government runs the risk of falling apart. This is the sum of what is currently happening in the UDF government.
No sooner the crisis relating to Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar of the Kerala Congress (B) has died down than a battery of problems revolving around chief whip P.C. George of the Kerala Congress (M) have cropped up. Currently, P.C. George is the talk of the town — in an unfavourable way, that is. George is in the habit of shooting from the lip, not least before the newsmen and this streak in his character has put him in trouble numerous times
in the past.
He was once the solo member of a Kerala Congress faction but later he merged his party with Kerala Congress of K.M. Mani, the finance minister, who had been his Aunt Sally target for quite sometime. Just when Mani thought he could breathe easy with George's induction into his party and later his appointment as the chief whip of the UDF, George started unleashing his poisonous vitriol on just anybody he has had an issue with, irrespective of whether he/she is from the opposition parties or from the ruling coalition.
When he gratuitously dished the dirt on Forest Minister and cine actor Ganesh Kurmar telling TV channels how the minister was bashed up by the husband of his alleged lover he might have expected his resignation or sacking. He must have thought that the so-called revelation would be grist for the mill of the party faithful led by Ganesh's father and former firebrand minister Balakrishna Pillai who had been clamouring for his ouster as minister.
To George's chagrin, however, Balakrishna Pillai chose to keep mum on the issue as it concerned his son's private life. Several opposition figures, including opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan, refused to disbelieve George's revelation.
It is alleged that George's shock revelation is his way of getting even with Ganesh who had refused to hand over forest land in Nelliaympathy to its holders whose lease agreement period was over. The moneyed farmers were allegedly the Kerala Congress (M) constituency. Last heard, Ganesh has survived the whole unwholesome shebang. And there appears to be an undeclared armistice between the father and the son.
It was when George badmouthed K.R. Gowriamma, former formidable Marxist and now leader of the JSS party, a coalition partner of the UDF that pretty much all key politicos, including opposition leaders, came out against him demanding his ouster as the UDF chief whip. His row with Gowriamma started when the latter pointed out, in the context of his allegation against Ganesh, that a woman came to the assembly with a kid in the early eighties searching for George. This is the reason George vented his spleen on Gowriamma and allegedly defamed her late husband T.V. Thomas.
Now a number of lawmakers cutting across party lines have demanded his sacking from the dignified post he holds. The opposition has complained to the speaker and demanded his sacking from the post. Several Congress MLAs have come out in the open asking Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala to bridle George. What is more, people from his own party, Kerala Congress (M), have started ripping him apart. The speaker has left the issue to a subcommittee of the house.
A slew of such controversies had been raging just when the speculation about the opposition move to poach splinter parties from the UDF had been flying thick and fast. Some people allege that George is a stalking horse of Oommen Chandy. There was indeed a rumour that both Ganesh Kumar and Shibu Baby John of RSP were planning to jump the ship.
Another strong buzz floating around has been that veteran Finance Minister K.M. Mani and his party are considering hitching their wagon to the LDF star. Though Mani has denied it, rumour-mongers say that if Mani is offered chief ministership, something he had been dreaming up for yonks, he would decide to take the plunge. In fact, he told newsmen recently to the effect that his party's loyalty to the UDF was not something set in tablets of stone. Is Mani waiting for the right time?
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.