Small parties create 'big problems' (Kerala Newsletter)
It was in the late 1970s that Kerala embraced coalition politics by creating fronts with various parties but today, many of these small entities have become a problem for the parent body.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) today comprises nine parties. It includes two (JSS and CMP) with no legislator while the RSP-B, the Kerala Congress-Jacob and the Kerala Congress-B have just one legislator each.
There are issues within these parties that bother the Congress in running the coalition government.
The JSS, led by former Communist K.R. Gowri, and the CMP, under another ex-Communist M.V. Raghavan, split, with accusations flying thick and fast amongst the factional leaders and embarrassing the UDF.
"We are prepared to open a dialogue with the other group," said K.R. Aravindakshan of one of the factions.
The other CMP faction is led by state Planning Board member C.P. John, who responded by saying his side was not prepared for a dialogue.
The coalition's top-brass has directed the leaders of both the factions to stay away from UDF meetings till things are sorted out.
The Kerala Congress-B, led by veteran R. Balakrishna Pillai - a founder of the UDF - is a bruised man. His son K.B. Ganesh Kumar, the lone party legislator, is yet to be reinstated as a minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet after he resigned last year following domestic issues with his wife.
"We are not living in a fool's paradise to believe what Chandy told us - to wait till the Lok Sabha polls are over," said a peeved Pillai.
Last week, the party was in the news again after reports appeared that Pillai had held secret parleys with CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on New Year's Day, saying that if the Left Democratic Front (LDF) took him on board, he would release a secret document that would bring down the Oomen Chandy government.
In the Kerala Congress-Jacob, things remained fluid after Daisy Jacob, widow of party founder T.M. Jacob, was made the No.2 last week.
"Contrary to reports in the media, there are no issues in our party because of my elevation," said Daisy Jacon. Her son, Anup, the food and civil supplies minister, won a byelection in 2012, soon after his father died.
Things are no different in the JSS, from which former legislator K.K. Shaju and a few senior leaders were ousted for objections to Gowri's style of functioning.
In the LDF also, things appear uncertain in the Kerala Congress-T led by former minister P.C. Thomas, as last month leaders of rival factions were at each others' throats in an ouster game.
Thomas's party does not have any legislator in the assembly.
Even though there are other small parties in the LDF within which there are differences of opinion, nothing major has come into the open so far.
Veteran political analyst P. Rajan said there is no such thing called ideology in such parties and their only criterion is sharing the spoils of power.
"We have seen small parties moving from one front to the other and when they move, it's nothing but for power only," said Rajan in a discussion on a TV channel.
"The responsibility to see these one-man armies win an election is on us but after they win, they treat us shabbily. The sooner we get rid of these small parties, the better it is. Mind you, do not be surprised if the new-born Aam Aadmi Party takes shape in Kerala. The blame would have to be put on these small parties that create big problems," said a Congress leader, not willing to be identified.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 16-01-2014)