Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after a three week break on account of his medical treatment, on Thursday returned to public view to launch the Left’s election campaign for the May 31 Thrikkakara bypoll.
He expressed absolute confidence that CPI-M candidate Dr Joe Joseph will win the by-election to take the Left Democratic Front to 100 seats, after its resounding victory in the April 2021 Assembly polls, where not only did it return to power, but its tally increasing from 91 seats in 2016 to 99.
“We will hit the century mark with Joe Joseph winning this seat easily,” said Vijayan amidst huge cheers by the massive audience, which was waiting to hear him speak.
He opened by targeting the BJP-led Central government for “destroying” several institutions.
“The secular fabric of the country is at stake as the Sangh Parivar is trying to destroy peace by injecting communalism and have been targeting the minority communities the Muslims and the Christians and here the Congress has badly failed to stop this. The Congress of the present is nowhere near what it was in the yesteryears. The Congress is unable to do anything as it is their economic policies that the BJP is following now. It’s here where we need to have an alternate policy and that’s what’s being followed in Kerala,” said Vijayan.
He accused the Congress of trying to unsettle everything in the state.
“They have found fault in every project of what we have launched which included the KIIFB, established as the principal funding arm of Government of Kerala… it was during the first term of our government that we decided to strengthen it by finding funds outside of the annual state budget and we were able to bring in Rs 50,000 crore. This has been used in all the 140 Assembly constituencies. We are only interested in the overall development of our state and we are sure we will breach the 100 seat mark,” Vijayan said.
He then spoke at length of various ongoing projects.
As Vijayan was speaking, estranged Congress veteran K.V. Thomas entered to a huge applause. On hearing this, Vijayan said: “I think Thomas has come.”
Thomas said he continues to be a Congress man and his only agenda is to see Kerala prospering and Vijayan is the best person to lead the state for this. That is the only reason why he, despite being in the Congress, is attending this meeting, he said.
“P.T. Thomas (the sitting legislator, whose demise in December necessitated the by-election) was a long-time friend and colleague to me, so is his family. By fielding his widow Uma, the Congress has done injustice to P.T. Thomas because he had always been opposed to sons being fielded when the father passes away or the wife is fielded when the husband passes away. Just see what the Congress has done here,” he added.
Joseph said he is a cardiologist by training and he assured the electorate that he will hold the Thrikkakara constituency as close to his heart as he does his patients.