The massive statewide protests against K-Rail seem to be proving a dampener for the first anniversary of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala which may see an impact in the Thrikkakara bypolls on May 31.
Vijayan led his Left Democratic Front to a stunning victory in the April, 2021 Assembly elections when he was able to increase tally from 91 seats to 99 seats in the 140-member Kerala Legislative Assembly, thereby becoming the first CPI-M chief minister to retain office.
He was sworn in a second time on May 20, 2021.
His argument that the Kerala population voted for them a second time was because of their manifesto, which said that the K-Rail project would be implemented. But, massive protests were witnessed all across the state when the K-Rail officials started to lay yellow marking stones as part of doing the social impact assessment study.
Vijayan appears to have misread things and his adamant posture on the project has further angered people. Both the principal opposition political fronts, the Congress-led UDF and the BJP-led NDA have come out in the open and joined the people whose land is supposed to be taken over.
All his efforts to play down the protests have failed and he and his aides had to go back on their word about the project.
When those opposing the project demanded the publishing of the detailed project report, it was shot down by stating that it cannot be given out as it contains lots of information, some of which pertains to national security. But after a few days of making this statement, the Vijayan government put it out on the website, making themselves eat their words.
Their attempts to pacify and cool down things by staging an Open House all across the 14 district headquarters has failed to come out with anything as the invitees to it were selected by the government officials.
Lastly, as the Thrikkakara by-election campaign gets hotter, just the other day came a government order that the yellow marking stones laying has been called off and the K-Rail authorities will now do it using the GPS technology.
Another point of attack that Vijayan had to face was when social media was abuzz with activity taking potshots on his now third visit to the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the US for his yet to be disclosed ailment.
There have been frequent discussions on if Kerala, as per Vijayan and his aides, have the best medical facilities equivalent to or better than the West, then why is he often going to the US for his treatment.
Vijayan, who cut short his trip to the US and returned to the state on May 10, expressed absolute confidence two days later, when he inaugurated the election convention of interventional cardiologist Joe Joseph, a surprise selection as the CPI-M candidate at Thrikkakara.
Vijayan said that they have no doubt that when votes will be counted on June 3, the Left will hit a century of legislators.
But Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the Vijayan government has turned out to be an abject failure on all fronts and has put immense pressure on the people in more ways than one.
“The first phase of our victory against K-Rail has been registered and time is not far when he will have to announce the cancellation of the project,” said Satheesan.
“There is no governance as the state is reeling under one of its worst ever financial crises with no money in the coffers. The Finance Minister has to come out with a white paper on the state’s finances. The state-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has no salary for its employees. The government is unable to run KSRTC, but they say they will implement the K-Rail project which will cost, if implemented, a staggering Rs 2 lakh crore. If this happens then Kerala will go the Sri Lankan way. The Left has nothing to brag as they have turned out to be an abject failure on all fronts,” said Satheesan.
Will Vijayan be able to celebrate the first year of his second term actually depends upon the June 3 Thrikkakara bypoll result. So, the celebrations for the time being appear to be put on hold.