By T S Sudhir
My guess is that V S Achuthanandan will sleep nicely tonight. Here is a man, ridiculed for his age by a man who has nothing but his surname to boast of, giving the UDF a run for its money and the chief minister’s chair in the State Secretariat. Here is a man, who fought both the UDF and much of the LDF during his five years in power, was denied a ticket to contest yet again, then allowed to contest on popular demand and then leads it to bring it within sniffing distance of power.
Achuthanandan has every reason to be proud of his achievement. But he should also thank his stars he did not get 72 and the UDF 68. For if that had happened, he would once again be at the mercy of the Red brigade at AKG Centre who would then come out all guns blazing to deny him his place under the sun.
That headache will now be Oommen Chandy’s. The veteran leader from Puthupally in Kottayam who is the front runner to succeed VS, will have a tough time dealing with the pressure tactics and blackmail from the UDF coalition partners who do realise extracting their pound of flesh will be so much easier, thanks to this verdict given by the Kerala voters. Every decision will now be a compromise. Every disgruntled minister and MLA will be a rebel. Because all it needs is three disgruntled MLAs to give Chandy nightmares.
A look at the numbers. The UDF may have scored on the arithematic but clearly the chemistry with the electorate was not the stuff that romances are made of. Shashi Tharoor looks at the glass half full. He says the UDF shaved off 30 seats from the LDF tally of 2006. I look at the glass half empty. The 2009 Lok Sabha poll result which the UDF hoped to replicate, would have translated to about 100 assembly seats for the UDF. That means the LDF shaved off 28 seats off the UDF.
Is the verdict good for Kerala? No way. Yes the state gains by having a vibrant opposition but if that opposition is going to call for a bandh, hartal or stall assembly proceedings on the strength of its lung power, it is pointless. Similarly, a CM under siege, will hardly be able to do what he should do for the good of the people.
The next five years will see Kerala batting on an unplayable pitch. And development, I fear, will be `Pause’ mode.