The Interview: KK Shailaja rules out anti-incumbency sentiments in Kerala | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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The Interview: KK Shailaja rules out anti-incumbency sentiments in Kerala

May 20, 2024 11:48 AM IST

KK Shailaja had earned the name of ‘rockstar health minister’ when she guided Kerala through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former Kerala health minister KK Shailaja, who is contesting as a Left Democratic Front candidate from Vadakara constituency in the Lok Sabha election 2024, rejected the allegations of Congress against her over the bomb blast in Kannur's Panoor. In an exclusive conversation with Kumkum Chadha of Hindustan Times, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said she was not acquainted with the persons who were booked in the bomb blast case. KK Shailaja was responding to the allegations after her photograph with the bomb blast case accused surfaced.

KK Shailaja is a Left Democratic Front candidate from Vadakara constituency in the Lok Sabha election 2024,
KK Shailaja is a Left Democratic Front candidate from Vadakara constituency in the Lok Sabha election 2024,

“In Panoor, there was a blast. I don't know what is the reason. Some people were making some fireworks and it blasted, and one was killed. There is no connection with me... How it became a thing to discuss in the Parliamentary election, I don't know,” Shailaja said.

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One person was killed and four others were injured after a bomb blasted on a terrace of a house at Panoor in April. According to police, they met with the accident while making bombs.

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Shailaja also ruled out any anti-incumbency sentiments in the state.

“There is no anti-incumbency here. I was the previous health minister. People know how much the hospitals have improved at that time. We tried to modernise all the government schools. We provided four lakh houses,” she said.

Shailaja had earned the name of ‘rockstar health minister’ when she guided Kerala through the Covid-19 pandemic. She, however, was not retained as the health minister when the CPI(M)-led coalition won its second consecutive term in 2021.

When asked if she had become the victim of her own success, Shailaja said, “I cannot answer that. It should be decided by the people, by journalists like you. But I always remember Mother Theresa's quotes on this: ‘If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are’."

The voting for the Vadakara, a coastal city in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, was held on April 26 (Phase 2). The results will be announced on June 4.

The 67-year-old Shailaja is pitted against Congress leader Shafi Parambil, 41, a UDF candidate, and Praphul Krishnan, 38, of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Asked if age could be a factor in the contest, as Shafiq is getting support from the youth, the senior CPI(M) leader said, “What do you mean by youth? Youth means the one who can work hard for society. The question is who is working and what is his policy. If a youth's policy is anti-democratic and anti-secular, how can we elect him?”

The CPI(M) has held the Vadakara seat since 1996 till the Congress won it last time. But this time, according to Shailaja, the Left party could win it back.

“This time, we hope to regain that seat…We are campaigning on the development of the state and the development of the Vadakara constituency. So, I think people will accept this, and they will elect the LDF this time,” she said.

Many experts believe that by fielding Shailaja, the party has killed two birds with one stone – her victory takes her to Delhi and out of the state politics, in one sense, and to Parliament. And if she loses, the party would puncture the popularity balloon.

Shailaja, however, said sending her to Delhi is not a punishment. “Sending to Delhi means sending to Parliament. It's not to the Andaman Nicobar jail. I will be here in Kerala and working for my party. If I win, one more thing is that I can work for my party in other states as well. I am confident that people will not forget the work done by the last Left Front government,” she said.

When asked about her greatest challenge, Shailaja said, “The MP election is very different and more challenging than assembly elections. The voting pattern becomes different sometimes because last time, the UDF propagated that it could oust the BJP from the Centre and become an alternative for the party. And so everyone should vote for them. The BJP brought some Acts to Parliament, and the Congress didn't oppose them. The Left is for secularism, and for democracy and socialism. So, I think this time the voting pattern becomes different.”

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