(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 01, 2001
UDF RULE IN KERALA
High On Rhetoric, Low On Governance
ONE month is not a sufficient duration to gauge the advantages and disadvantages of the steps taken by a new government. But it is time enough to examine the direction in which that government is proceeding. That is why an attempt is made to examine the balance sheet of the UDF government that has been in power in Kerala for the last one month. We may delve into certain measures (or may we call them non-measures?) taken by the Antony government during its first month. It was making high-sounding declarations regarding many things.
In the first place it was saying to the people that it would bring out a White Paper on the economic situation of the state. Of course they were saying it because their promises of rectifying the so-called errors of the LDF government in the conduct of the treasury were nowhere near their fulfillment. On the other hand 'treasury ban' continues with even more gravity than during the LDF period. During the LDF period there was no 'treasury ban', generally, between June and February, except for minor exceptions. There was no ban on the disbursement of the GPF withdrawals of employees, generally. But what is the present condition? No money above the sum of ten thousand rupees is disbursed from any treasury of the state. It was publicized in the newspapers and other media that this ban would be upto June 23, 2001. However, the orders issued to the Treasuries show that the ban is not upto June 23, but upto June 26; the treasury staff who know things better say that it is not probable in the present condition that there would be any disbursement after that date, too. The pay dates are coming fast and there will be no money if these payments are made on 26 or later; thus the treasury will be bankrupt and no salaries would be disbursed in such a predicament as this. This is due to the financial inactivity of the present government. The government is indulging in high talks without ever taking even normal steps to collect money and fill the treasury; instead of that the finance minister is trying to appease the tax evaders that the government would not touch them. If at all the Govt. would do anything, it would be only an affectionate embrace of the tax evaders. How pious is the finance minister of Kerala!
What is the condition of other spheres? From Education to Abkari (liqour policy), the Antony government is in the dark. No clarity, no vision and no perspective, Antony and his ministerial colleagues are involved in a declaration process. These declarations have no impact on the people; they do not respond to the concrete situations. The only thing that has been ascertained is that the day-to-day expenses of governance will have an unprecedented hike. The chief minister has time and again said to the people that the electricity charges will have to be hiked. He has blamed the LDF for this. But there is a point, which he doesnt like to mention. During the LDF period between 1996 and 2001, there was a great surplus production of electricity in Kerala. The surplus is 1086 Mega Watts of electricity. Out of this, Kerala has begun to supply 100 MW of electricity to Tamil Nadu. One of the main sources of revenue now the government of Kerala is depending is the income from this supply of power to Tamil Nadu. For this improvement of generation of power, the UDF government is going to punish the people of Kerala by hiking electricity charges. From this we may deduce certain future developments: after the charges are increased, the government will kill off the spot billing system in order to hide from the people how much they are robbed of by the government in the name of increased electricity charges.
The chief minister has been lavish in declaring other punitive measures also. He has said that the bus charges will be increased substantially; he has, in fact, criticized the LDF government for not hiking the bus fare even before the UDF came to power. He has also said that building taxes will have to be increased. The minister for health has said that he will see to it that people will be charged for their treatment in government hospitals. Thus the people of Kerala will be deprived of one condition from which the much-acclaimed Kerala model grew. And that condition is the universal health programme available in Kerala.
Now, let us examine how Antony and his colleagues are going to cut short the expenditure for governance as claimed by them. He has increased the number of his Cabinet from 14 to 20. It is estimated that a minister can have about 27 members in his/her personal staff. No body in Kerala has any illusion regarding UDF leaders avoiding any such "small" pomp for which they are entitled to. This will cost the exchequer a lot more than the previous governance. In spite of the CMs open declaration, his colleagues have begun to decorate their residences to "befit" their status and to accommodate their party henchmen to their fullest satisfaction.
WORSENED LAW AND ORDER
The law and order situation of the state is in a critical condition. The arson and looting and use of sophisticated explosives by the extremist wing of the IUML in Nadapuram and Kasarkod have literally appalled the whole of Kerala and the chief minister in particular. The home portfolio is with the C.M. His party colleague and the Congress godfather in Kerala, Mr K Karunakaran has made a scathing criticism of the law and order situation. The apathy with which the CM is handling the situation shows clearly that some thing is rotten in the UDF. In Nadapuram, a young communist was brutally killed in broad daylight by the IUML hooligans. It seems that the IUML has absorbed the anti-national extremist elements to their own fold in order to gain political mileage in an otherwise Congress-dominated ministry.
The government of Kerala has openly declared that it will stop appointment of any kind in the days to come. This has become a real challenge to the employment seeking young men and women of Kerala. A Front which came to power promising to provide employment to 15 lakhs of job seekers, has virtually banned employment and thus shut the doors of opportunity to them. Several interviews have been cancelled. The job seekers are really frozen for the time being and the UDF will have to answer them in the very near future. There are about 43 lakhs of educated young men and women who have registered themselves with the various employment exchanges of the state with the hope that they would be getting some means of livelihood in the near future. This dream has been razed to the grounds by the present UDF government.
The UDF government is following in the footsteps of the central BJP led government. They both believe they have no responsibility to provide jobs, improve the existing industries and start new industries. On the contrary they think people should be squeezed of their meager income as far as possible. Electricity charges, bus fare, pay clinics within government, hospitals- all these are set to undergo a steep hike.
DIVIDED ON EDUCATION
The new government has not formally decided, so far, to discontinue the new education system prevalent in the state. But the concerned minister has issued telephonic orders to the concerned offices to revert to the old VIII STD textbooks. We do not know how this contradiction will be resolved. The UDF is virtually divided into two camps: Pro-new syllabus and anti-new syllabus. The education minister has said that the new syllabus will be totally abandoned in the state from the next academic year onwards.
Thus our children are going to be taken back to the bad old days of teacher-oriented education, in the place of the new, rejuvenating, child-oriented education. Kerala has always been in the forefront of reforms in educational field. While the central government is trying to implement a fascist, communal education pattern in the BJP ruled states, Kerala is the only state that had come with a parallel to the new, fascist pattern provided by the Sangha Parivar. It is unfortunate that a minority party minister is stabbing the new education policy from the forefront in order to provide way for the fascists for a clamor for implementing their system in the name of religion and obscurantist practices. The children are going to be deprived of the information and knowledge that they have accrued through sixteen years of hard work by educationalists and social activists.
The LDF government had implemented a new abkari policy in order to curb the power and impact of illegal liquor business in the state. The toddy sales were entrusted with the cooperative societies of the employees. The UDF has recommended disbanding of these societies. This move has been opposed by almost all sections of Kerala society. Even INTUC and other pro-UDF trade unions have criticised this move of the government. But hell bent on amusing the liquor barons, the government is. The removal of the private sector from toddy and India-made foreign liquor has earned good dividends to the state exchequer. If the abkari lobby is again brought to the toddy sector, the toddy shops will become places for the flow of illicit arrack, for the ban of which the CM Mr Antony always makes noises and forgets. From the sale of foreign liquor through government agencies, the state exchequer is earning a minimum of Rs 100 crores every month. But it was the liquor lobby that mainly wanted to dislodge the LDF from power and enthrone the UDF to power. Therefore it is only natural that the UDF will have to take measures at the cost of the people who gave them mandate to rule it their way.
Finally the chief minister is heard saying that the Peoples Plan will continue. He harangues that his government would give more money to the local bodies than the sum provided by the LDF government. But the indications are otherwise. The LDF government had united the portfolios of rural development and local self-government in order to make Peoples Plan very effective. It had its good results also. The UDF government has separated the two portfolios again. Local self-government is in the hands of an IUML minister and Rural development is in the hands of a Kerala Congress minister. The IUML workers the state over are heard intimidating the LDF-ruled local bodies that they will be taught a lesson for their alleged misgovernance.
These are only symptoms. The real work is yet to come. When it comes, the symptoms prove that it will be an epidemic. We have to warn the people with the following words: Beware, lest the UDF should bite you.