K-Rail: Who will reign in Pinarayi Vijayan?

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Ever since Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan guided the Left to a historic win in the April 2021 Assembly polls, becoming the first person to have led a CPI-M government to power for a successive term, he has emerged as a figure no one dares to question.

But with K-Rail, the pet project of Vijayan, starting to go forward with a preliminary survey, it has left the state fuming. For the past one week, massive protests have broken out across the state wherever the project officials are reaching to lay the marking stones as part of the social impact assessment study.

In the past several days, the police are having a tough time and at a few places, the protesters were roughed up by the police.

On Tuesday morning in Malappuram, when the K-Rail officials arrived with a huge police force, angry locals, especially women, warned Vijayan asking him not to forget that there are more polls to come.

In Kottayam, former Home Minister and veteran Congress legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan led the protesters saying the marking stones that have been laid will be pulled out very soon.

CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan warned that the protests are a bid to bring back what happened in 1959 when the world’s first democratically elected Communist government headed by EMS Nampoothiripad was overthrown by the Centre after huge protests broke out soon after he took over in 1957.

On Tuesday mormning, former CPI-M minister and party central committee member A.K.Balan echoed Balakrishnan’s statement.

“What happened in Changnacherry protests against K-Rail is a re-run of what happened in 1957 when the first protests to overthrow the EMS government began at the same place. But times and things have changed and it will be a futile attempt to revisit those protests. The opposition is hell bent on creating trouble and they are wanting a martyr in the protests,” said Balan.

Asked about the protests, State Revenue Minister K.Rajan from the CPI rfused to comment saying he will make his views clear at an appropriate time.

Nobody from Vijayan’s party or from the allies have spoken a single word against this project, despite massive protests from all quarters.

The other day the kith and kin of legendary late CPI leaders in the state wrote a letter to Vijayan asking him to reconsider this project.

Meanwhile, Vijayan has gone on record to say that come what may, the project will continue and that he will not be cowed down by protesters who are being led by the Congress and the BJP.

But according to a media critic on condition of anonymity, even though outside there is not even a murmur of protest either in the party or in the Left Front, talks have begun and it’s now only a matter of time when things will come out in the open.

“None in the CPI-M will dare to come out at the moment, as the 23rd Party Congress is being held early next month in Kannur- the home town of Vijayan. The stage is such that even the national leadership of the CPI-M is at the mercy of Vijayan and even though Sitaram Yechuri strongly opposed the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor, he has uttered no word on the K-Rail. All eyes are on what the national leadership of the CPI-M do when they come to Kannur. So as things stand now, very soon one can see the first signs of a surge against Vijayan,” said the critic.

If completed, it will see a 529.45 km corridor connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod with high speed trains covering the distance in around four hours.

As per NITI Aayog, it might cost Rs 1.24 lakh crore when it nears completion in 2025, while the detailed project report on this published by the Pinarayi Vijayan government says it will cost Rs 63,940 crore.

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