Playing politics


There is a contradictoriness involved in the actions of all the players in the SNC Lavalin scandal that is rocking Kerala and the leader of its ruling LDF alliance, the CPM. All of them should have done the opposite of what they have done; or it would at least have brought them better credit if they had acted differently. This is the case with the positions of the important players on both sides. That shows how difficult it is to separate right and wrong in the case and how deep are the grey areas in it.

The state Governor, R S Gavai, ignored the cabinet’s recommendation to reject the CBI request for permission to prosecute the state CPM secretary Pinarayi Vijayan who, according to the investigating agency, conspired with a Canadian company to cause financial loss to the state when a minister more than a decade ago. But it is doubtful if the Governor’s action is constitutionally correct, though there may be a moral case for it. Both the Governor’s action and the CBI’s implication of Vijayan in the case could be motivated; both are not independent and take their orders from their political masters. It might be useful to remember that the state vigilance could not find any case against Vijayan even when the UDF was in power in the state.

The CPM and Vijayan have attacked the CBI and the Governor for their actions. But the party should not have  made a big issue of the CBI’s partisanship and should have  faced the legal challenge willingly. It decided to fight the matter politically, but  readiness to submit itself to the legal process would have politically helped the party better. Why was it not ready for it if it was sure that Vijayan was not involved in corruption? The party’s handling of the issue also exacerbated its factional problems and weakened it, and this was clear from the Lok Sabha election results. 

 It may be felt that some credit is due to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan for trying to act as a head of government and not as a party leader. But Achuthanandan’s motives were also probably political. It is likely that he was more interested in hitting at Vijayan than in upholding the law. There is public interest involved in the actions of every one in the matter, but the interpretation suited everyone’s narrow interests and defeated the larger aims of public action, political responsibility and moral purpose. 

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