Historic victory in Kerala will certainly reinvigorate Left: Pinarayi Vijayan
Despite facing several odds, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan led the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front to a sterling victory in Kerala, rewriting the four-decade-old electoral trend of the state changing governments after every five years. The 76-year-old architect of the win is about to take the crease for his second innings. He spoke to Hindustan Times about how he did it, and stressed that his party’s return to power will help Left and secular forces across the country.
Your government bucked the four -decade-old political tradition of Kerala alternating governments every five years. How did you achieve this?It is true that history has been made in Kerala. However, I don’t see this as our achievement alone. In fact, this is the achievement of the people. They were very clear that the protagonists of negative politics were kept away from power. People have rewarded us mainly because we kept our promises, almost fully, despite major calamities. For the first time in the country, we were able to bring out progress reports every year in relation to our commitments. The transparency we ushered in enabled people to have a proper connect with the administration. Welfare measures and developmental efforts helped us create a new culture that the people endorsed through this huge mandate.
The Kerala victory is being seen as a sign of Left revival, but the party and its ideology faced a debacle in Bengal. What lessons can the Left take from Kerala? It’s true that we have received setbacks in Bengal. But the historic victory in Kerala will certainly reinvigorate Left and secular forces in the country. They always looked up to Kerala, as we have been relentlessly fighting the communal agenda propelled by the RSS. We were also able to put across an alternative agenda on both social and economical spheres. I am sure this Left victory will inspire many.
In this surge, you managed to close the BJP’s account in Kerala. But many say the BJP may aspire to take some of the space vacated by the Congress in the state? Do you foresee any such threat? As you must have followed what we often said, the Left has been consistent in its fight against the BJP. During the election campaign, I categorically said that the account of the BJP would be closed, and as you can see, the electorate has rejected the BJP completely. They had one seat, and that has been lost. Moreover, their voting percentage has come down considerably. The media has been reporting that their votes couldn’t even match their membership!
I don’t want to speak about the future of Congress, as it is for them to decide. However, it would be good for them if they can stop their soft attitude towards the BJP. During the last five years, the Congress had joined with the BJP to attack the LDF government. People have seen through their agenda. I wish wisdom descends on the Congress leadership.
Several scandals rocked your government, and central agencies probed some of the cases. You called it a larger conspiracy to weaken your government. Yes, the conspiracy was explicit. We know that everywhere in the country central investigating agencies are being used against political opponents. There are many examples. Rahul Gandhi says he is one of the victims of the central agencies’ political witch-hunting. Unfortunately, the Congress in Kerala joined hands with the BJP to destabilise the Left Front government and collaborate with the central agencies. The people of Kerala firmly rejected all canards propagated against the Left government using central agencies. We know that some of the agencies violated laws and constitutional provisions. We will fight this, both legally and politically.
The fight against the pandemic was one of reasons for your return? But cases are on the rise again. How will you go about controlling the Covid surge? The efforts of the government are backed by a well-knit health system. Apart from this, various agencies and organisations are supporting the government to tide over this grave crisis. Containing the pandemic is our major task, and we are confident of success. We have already sought assistance from the central government, including an additional share of vaccines. We are working in unison with the central government to contain the spread of virus.
People close to you say that you are a tough taskmaster and work like a CEO? Any perceptible change in your style of functioning in 2.0? The media has a habit of stereotyping. They should realise that people know their leaders well. Every person has his or her style of functioning. What is important is how you function to develop your state, to mitigate the sufferings of the people, to create more job opportunities for the educated youth. People will evaluate you on your performance or delivery, and the so-called style is irrelevant.
You said infra development will be top on your agenda in the next five years. Any big projects to cite?I am happy to say that the previous Left Front government could pave a strong foundation for our infrastructure development in major sectors, such as roads, air connectivity, power, and gas. Of course, we have to create infrastructure to global standards to attract more investment, develop tourism, and to create jobs. The new government will formulate projects in accordance with our manifesto.