Forget Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy. Kerala has rewritten it to read ‘government of the front, by the front, for the front.’ Since Left Democratic Front constituents other than the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) are midgets, under LDF rule democracy gets reduced to ‘government of the party, by the party, for the party.’
Last week, George Mercier, a member of the opposition United Democratic Front, asked in the State Assembly how many cases of attacks on women had been registered and how many women had been killed since the present government took office.
Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan replied that police had registered 33,148 cases of attacks on women and 243 women had been killed during the past four years.
There is nothing to suggest that attacks on women have increased under LDF rule. Since the question was about cases reported after the LDF came to power, there was no occasion for the minister to provide comparable figures of the UDF period.
In limiting the inquiry to the period of LDF rule Mercier was following a pattern set by others before him. Members often use the question hour to ferret out material which may show the other side in a bad light.
How much has been spent by ministers of this government on entertainment, on telephone calls, on air travel? Such questions come up regularly in the Assembly.
The information the government provides may not be enough to decide whether the spending was justified but it will be enough to plant a suspicion in people’s minds that ministers are spendthrifts.
The change of government in 2006 may not have led to a growth in the crime rate or rise in ministerial extravagance, but there is reason to believe the tendency to misuse authority is increasing. Since many officials are aligned with the CPI-M through service organisations, it is easy for the party to help those whom it favours.
One of the earliest scandals of the present government relates to irregularities in the appointment of assistants in Kerala University. The Upa-Lokayuta, who inquired into the matter, concluded that there had been political interference. The beneficiaries were members of the CPI-M’s youth and student affiliates. The issue is now before the high court.
During the Upa-Lokayukta’s inquiry it came to light that the answer papers of 40,000-odd candidates who took the examination held for filling the post had disappeared. The external agency which evaluated the papers said it had returned them to the university but the university denied having received them. The university bodies are packed with nominees of political parties who are ready to do their bidding.
While revising the voters list of the Kannur constituency before the by-election to the Assembly last year, 9,357 new names were added. Many new voters were shown as staying in buildings under the CPI-M’s control. The Congress alleged that the party had fudged the list with the help of officials.
The Election Commission directed the district authorities to register a case and investigate. While they complied with the directive, the chances of effective prosecution of the guilty officials are thin.
Punishing deserters is as much a part of the scheme as rewarding the faithful. After the Janata Dal quit the LDF and joined the UDF, its president, MP Veerendrakumar, and his son, MV Shreyamskumar, MLA, have come under attack as land grabbers.
The CPI-M Wayanad district secretary CK Saseendran led a group of tribal people under the banner of the Adivasi Kshema Samithi and occupied an estate belonging to Shreyamskumar. The court ordered that they be removed. In a stage-managed show, the police evicted the squatters only to return after the cops left.
High court judges who watched a video of the eviction drama noted that legislators had tried to obstruct the police and asked the Advocate General to advise those concerned to respect the law.
The CPI-M justifies the encroachment on Shreyamskumar’s property saying he is in illegal possession of land that belongs to the Adivasis. The land was in his possession all through the two decades during which the Janata Dal was an LDF constituent. The party or its governments did nothing to reclaim it for the Adivasis during that period.
The most worrying aspect of political infiltration of the service is the reported formation of CPI-M fractions in the police. It was in the 1990s that the presence of party members in the police first came to light. Recently the media reported that policemen had been called to party offices in some places for meetings. – Gulf Today, Sharjah, July 19, 2010.