Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy has completed 100 days in office. The man in hurry to make his mark speaks to Ramesh Babu about his initiatives, achievements, criticism and the two-decade-long palm oil case that continues to hound him. Excerpts:
Your government is celebrating 100 days in office. Have you been able to achieve what you set out to?
The 100-day action plan is a runaway hit. And inspired by that, we are planning a one-year action plan and Vision 2030, to compensate for lost days. Development with care is our motto. In 100 days we resolved the Chengara case (In 2007, landless Adivasis and Dalits encroached upon a rubber plantation in Pathanamthitta district to press for their demand for land. On August 16, the state cabinet approved the Chengara package.) regularised 10,000-odd teachers, distributed 600,000 ration cards, started R1-kg rice scheme and all hurdles were cleared for Kochi Metro and Smart City. The right to services will be implemented soon.
Web-casting, 24x7 office and toll-free complaint cell — your critics dub them as cosmetic changes.
No, we are getting a huge response. We need to create an atmosphere where everything will be quick and transparent. On the first day of web-casting my site www.keralacm.gov.in received more than 1,00,000 hits. The call centre is also flooded with complaints. A follow-up desk is monitoring the progress.
Has the slender majority affected your performance?
Not true. In fact, it is our strength. It has taught us to be more cautious and responsible. I never felt it as a tightrope walk. Now there is no scope for faction feuds
The palm oil case, which cost former Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas his job, is posing a threat to you too.
The case was framed during the LDF government headed by EK Nayanar 15 years ago. The two LDF governments vigorously pursued it. But, my name never cropped up. The way it came up at the end of the last government raises questions. The LDF government-appointed counsel is still pleading the case. I don’t have anything to hide. I am sure truth will prevail.