CM capitalises on PCC chief comments flaying state’s Health Minister Shailaja.


New Delhi: Kerala PCC president Mullappally Ramachandran may have scored a self-goal by making sarcastic comments against the state’s popular health minister K.K. Shailaja. But has state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan become a “saint” during this corona times is the question that is doing the rounds in political circles in Kerala. There is a conscious effort on the part of state CPM, the government and Left leaning intellectuals to create an aura around the Chief Minister. The norm these days in Kerala is Pinarayi Vijayan’s is the last word on anything and everything under the sun. It is beyond doubt that the Congress leader’s remarks were indeed condemnable. At the same time, it was wrong on the part of the Chief Minister to forget his own utterances about certain rivals in the past which equally stands condemnable even to this day.

To come to the point, the PCC president calling Shailaja “Covid queen” and “Nipah princess” was not in good taste, at least the way he said it. But it can’t be termed something mysogynic. It was at best a statement coming out of pure jealousy. Ramachandran seemed to have been upset about Shailaja getting international attention and was referring to an article that appeared in the London Guardian praising the state health minister as a “rockstar”.  Forget about Ramcahndran getting confused about the meaning of “rockstar”, the way he went on and on was a pathetic image of his own buffoonery. However, he managed to create enough political fodder for Kerala to discuss the next few days with even the author of the article in The Guardian Laura Spinney chipping in. “If Mullappally wishes to politicise the story, that is his prerogative,” she tweeted. She also added that Shailaja Teacher had already been called a “rockstar” and that she was just quoting others in the article. Though Mullappally tried to justify his comments the next day by saying “I don’t know much about modern dance…but it The Guardian that has called her a ‘rock dancer’ of Kerala…”, it had exposed the political exasperation of the Congress party in Kerala. By systematically propagating its work against corona virus or the deluge that had devastated the state in 2018, the Left Front government, and Pinarayi Vijayan in particular, has been working for a political goal. Kerala is the last hope for whatever is Left of the CPM in the country, having forfeited Tripura and West Bengal by its blatant misuse of power.

Nobody in Kerala will doubt that given the present circumstances, the Left Front could easily come back to power if things go like this. That is why Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to pounce on the remark by Mullappally and create a political controversy out of those out of mind comments. “By attacking the Health Minister who is leading Kerala’s fight against Covid-19 day and night, the KPCC president is trying to weaken the state. Nobody should play politics with the lives of people,” Pinarayi said. Pinarayi definitely knew what he was talking about while Mullappally continued to defend his faux pas. Many of his party colleagues were in disagreement with their chief, but preferred to keep quiet in the initial days. But realising how CPM is capitalising on the political windfall, leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala and senior Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy came to the defence of Mullappally. They tried to rally the party in support of Mullappally by saying that CPM would not be allowed to stifle Opposition by singling out KPCC president.

However, both tried not to directly comment on Mullappally’s remark. Chennithala shot back at Pinarayi by saying he is “stooping to the level of CPM cyber goondas”.  He also reminded how Pinarayi had “abused” his opponents in the past. “Thamarassery Bishop was called a ‘despicable creature’, Kollam MP N.K. Premachandran was referred to as a “scoundrel” and slain dissident CPM leader T.P. Chndrashekharan as a “renegade”.

Pinarayi did not even spare Mullappally’s late father Mullappally Gopalan, a respectable Gandhian from the Malabar region,” Chennithala said. How could such a man find fault with an innocent comment, questioned Chennithala. He went on to add that the Opposition’s role is to highlight the government’s lapses and they would continue to do it. “There is a concerted effort by the ruling front, including the chief minister, to defame the Congress and the UDF. It will not be tolerated,” Chennithala said. The Congress has subsequently announced a slew of protests against the Left Front, especially on its failures in providing easy passage to those Malayalis returning from the Gulf regions post Covid-19 outbreak. It will be advisable for the UDF to concentrate on people’s problems rather than individually attacking CPM ministers who, the people by and large believe, are doing a “good job” in tackling the corona virus spread.

Mullappally Ramachandran, too, should realise that the Opposition’s job is not to indulge in personal attacks but to expose government failures. But for the Opposition in Kerala, the Left Front would have got away with many shady deals, including the sale of data on virus victims, under the cover of Covid-19. That is the duty of a vigilant Opposition.