Pinarayi Vijayan’s name has gone into record books after becoming the longest serving Chief Minister of Kerala with an uninterrupted tenure when in November last year he won the Assembly polls thus beating C. Achutha Menon, who previously held that record for 2,364 days. But, then at present things are not going as many would have perceived them to be.
Allegations of involvement in scams and slow response to issues has raised questions in the political circles about Vijayan’s performance in the second tenure. Some have even started saying that the Pinarayi bubble is about to burst.
Looking back on his tenure, it was not he, who led the election campaign in the 2016 Assembly elections. It was the picture of the then Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan who was the most sought after campaigner for the Left.
After the votes were counted and the Left won a resounding victory, emerged Vijayan and he edged out Achuthanandan to the race for the post of Chief Minister.
National leaders of the party, including Sitaram Yechury rushed to the state capital from Delhi to placate Achuthanandan, who also had won handsomely from the Malampuzha Assembly constituency in Palakkad. Achuthanandan was given the post of the chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission with the cabinet rank.
Since then in the Left Democratic Front government and also in the CPI(M), there has been only one leader and one who is also the last word, and it is Vijayan.
He first faltered when the Ockhi waves struck the capital city coastline in November 2017 and despite the loss of around 80 lives, Vijayan did not visit the area immediately. He did go to the affected area after many days, and had to face the ire of the locals and literally was chased away.
Vijayan is facing a huge backlash, first on his pet project K-Rail which is being opposed by people. In 11 of the 14 districts protests have been taking place. The project has failed to get the nod from the Centre. But Vijayan is adamant to go ahead with the project.
The Thrikkakara Assembly by-election results in May last year was the first major jolt to him. He personally led a massive campaign in Thrikkakara when K-Rail was the single biggest campaign point. The Congress candidate won with a crushing victory.
Since then his stock has been on the downslide and it has now reached a new low after the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh revealed that he, his wife, daughter and son were engaged in gold and currency smuggling.
Suresh further pointed out the role of the Vijayan’s family in the now controversial Life Mission project bribery case.
Vijayan has been slammed by the Congress and the BJP for not even sending a ‘notice’ to her over her allegations if they are untrue.
When many thought, Vijayan would reply to all these allegations in the ongoing Assembly session, but he continued to remain silent, despite being provoked by the Congress-led Opposition.
Vijayan has also remained silent on the fire at the Brahmapuram Waste Plant. The smog has affected the lakhs of Kochi residents. He finally spoke about the fire issue under Rule 300 in the Assembly after 12 days of the residents living under duress.
Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, who has turned out to be the biggest and most bitter critic of Vijayan, said they will make no compromises against the way the Assembly is now being controlled by Vijayan as the Speaker just follows his instructions.
“Vijayan now fears to hear what we have to say and he is afraid to face us and that’s what one saw in the floor of the Assembly in the past three days,” said Satheesan.
Youth Congress president and 40-year-old legislator Shafi Parambil, who has had a hat trick of wins from the Palakkad Assembly constituency, said, “We are least worried of his statements as it is now realised by all that the statements are nothing but hollow ones. Maybe these dialogues and statements might reap rewards in his party for him, but we are least worried of the new or the old Vijayan,” said Parambil.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said, “His silence to the repeated statements of Swapna and not even considering taking legal steps against her, and his silence on the Kochi smog issue shows something is seriously wrong with him. It now appears he fears something and is taking cover under the powers vested with him as the chief minister,” said the critic.
But unlike the Congress, the big advantage that Vijayan has, despite the opposition’s attacks, everything is quiet in the Left front and in the CPI(M) as he continues to hold complete control.