Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has virtually extorted seats for his two cabinet colleagues who had sullied the image of the government now seeking mandate for another term.
Excise Minister K Babu had landed the government in bar bribery scandal. Babu himself had faced bribery charges and a vigilance inquiry which is still pending against him. Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash had embarrassed the government and the party alike by resorting to controversial decisions related to land. Besides these two Congress ministers, Kerala Congress (M) chairman K M Mani, who had to quit in the bar scandal, is also in the fray.
Going by present indications, the bar scandal and land related controversies are set to emerge as election topics. While Congress-led UDF fears these issues will cast a shadow over its prospects across the constituencies, these three ministers remain insulated from the negative
impact of the scandals. There is no indication that Mani or Babu or Prakash would be humbled by the voters.
That is perhaps because they have nursed their respective constituencies over the years; attended local developmental needs; built up institutions and ensured personal care for people cutting across politics and religion. They may have the strong backing of their caste leadership but they win over the other castes by addressing their requirements. In Pala constituency, it is well-known that CPI (M) and BJP supporters vote for Christian politician K M Mani on account of this “inclusive politics’’.
This shows a growing trend in Kerala politics where leaders are concerned only about their individual fate in electoral politics. They may have indulged in corrupt deeds but a safe constituency is there in the background. Even if their parties or political fronts lose the elections,
these leaders are able to romp home in their constituencies due to local level developmental and political interventions.
Hence, while the entire state debates the bar and land scandals, Mani, Babu and Prakash look pretty sitting in their fiefdoms. They have created the impression that they alone can retain their constituencies for the UDF. In such a scenario, the leadership has little option but to accept their candidature even at the risk of harming the party’s or front’s electoral chances in other constituencies.