Wobbly govt, riven opposition on survival mode

Kerala witnessed turbulence  in politics, society and economics in 2012.  Allocation of portofolios to a group of inefficient politicians has affected the image of the Congress-led UDF government, which survives on a wafer-thin majority. 

Food minister Anoop Jacob, who stepped into his father T M Jacob’s position, has failed to stop black-marketing of ration goods, leaving the government fair price shops empty and prices of essential commodities skyrocketing.

The once-enviable state public health system has been left gasping by minister V S Sivakumar, the nominee of the NSS (Nair Service Society), an organisation of the powerful Nair community. The murder of two inmates at the government asylum has exposed the system’s inefficiencies.

After five years, the state is experiencing power cuts which, according to the minister in charge Ariyadan Muhammad, is the beginning of many drastic measures to come. The road transport organisation (KSRTC), also controlled by the minister, has been going through a bumpy ride.

The government has seen public spats among the ministers. Revenue Minister K M Mani and Chief Whip P C George are critical of Forest Minister K B Ganesh kumar for his attempt to take over the forest land from planters for which lease period has expired.

Mani and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash have been clashing over a new land reform order. Outside the government, a group of young Congress MLAs and former Speaker V M Sudheeran are alleging that the government is hand in glove with land, sand, spirit and tourism mafias. Coalition partners treat the portfolios allotted to them as their fiefdom.

So fragmented is the Congress state unit that the party was unable to conduct elections
for its important offices. Instead, the two opposing factions have shared the positions.

Despite the worst year, the UDF manages to cling on to power after snapping up two by-election victories, cashing in on divisions within the Opposition CPM and trapping it in sensational murder cases.

Internal divisions rock the CPM-led LDF too. It was left isolated after the murder of party rebel C P Chandrashekharan and the arrest of party leaders P Jayarajan and M M Mani in separate murder cases.

Left in lurch

Differences on crucial issues have widened the chasm between the alliances partners, the CPM and the CPI. There seems no let up in the spats between CPM veteran leader V S Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

The delay in providing social security pensions and introducing contributory pension for government employees has raised more questions over the health of the exchequer, while the much-hyped ‘Emerging Kerala’ programme has failed to bring investments of any significance.

The state to which alcohol has become an indispensable part of its social life is expected to drain IMFL worth Rs 8,000 crore in the current fiscal. In a sign that ‘God’s Own Country’ is fast becoming unsafe for women, 20 minor girls have been sexually abused in the first three weeks of December and in several cases, the predators were close relatives.

The incident in which two Indian fishermen had been shot dead by Italian marines aboard the oil tanker Enrica Lexie on February 15 sparked a major diplomatic row between India and Italy. It took place in the Arabian Sea reportedly within the Indian waters, following which the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girome, had been arrested and sent to prison in Kerala.

Amid the on-going legal and investigative processes, the two marines have been allowed by a Kerala court to spend Christmas back home, following assurances that they would return to surrender to the police on January 10, 2013.

As 2012 recedes to the pages of history, the first ever Biennale, the international cultural carnival, is under way in Kochi.

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