Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 16 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy confesses that he did not expect to complete five years in office, a feat only one Congress leader, the late K. Karunakaran, managed to achieve.
The topsy turvy of Kerala politics has never allowed any Congress leader to remain in office undisturbed for the entire five-year term.
Chandy, who recently turned 72, has represented Puthupally in Kottayam from 1970. He first became chief minister when he replaced A.K. Antony in 2004 after the rout of the Congress-led UDF in the Lok Sabha polls.
He was the leader of the opposition from 2006 to 2011.
Chandy expressed happiness that he would be equalling Karunakaran’s 1982-87 record. “I never expected I would complete a five-year term,” Chandy told IANS in an interview.
“In May 2011 when I was sworn in, all we had was a majority of just two seats (in the 140-member assembly). Don’t you recall the numerous times the Left asked me to resign?
“The entire credit goes to the Congress and the United Democratic Front. What kept me going was the unstinted support of the people. Though the media thrives on controversies, people know the truth,” he said.
Chandy underlined that his style of work was vastly different from that of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
“While they time and again hit below the belt, I just cannot do that. And I will never do it.
“This is the way they have been doing politics for so many years. Raking up an issue and keeping it alive for months and years.”
He said while finance minister K.M. Mani had to resign on just a court reference, there were many in the Left who were on bail or have got a stay in the case against them.
“Yet they point fingers at us. Right from the time the case of bar-bribery surfaced, I made it clear that Mani has done no wrong. I stand by it, and the decision to resign was made by Mani,” added Chandy. “I am sad he resigned.”
Asked if Mani can return to the cabinet if he gets a relief from the court, Chandy told IANS: “The decision to resign was his, and he can decide if he wishes to return.”
The chief minister said the finance portfolio that has now come to him would only be a burden because it would take up a lot of his time.
“I was so happy when I gave up the home portfolio. Portfolios restrict my free movement as I will have to spend more time in the office. I prefer going out and being with people.”
He said his government would ensure that major projects like Kochi Metro, Kannur Airport and Smart City Kochi were commissioned.
“The Vizhinjam port will start work on December 5. We will ensure that the projects to be given sanction will be cleared.”
Chandy admitted that in any coalition government there would be murmurs of disaffection.
“Yes, we did not get the expected results in the civic polls. And in a coalition, the biggest partner has to take the major chunk of the blame.”
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)