Confident Oommen Chandy blames media, pooh poohs solar scam
With general elections only weeks away, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has tried to give a clean chit to himself in the Rs.70 million solar scam, even as he slammed the media in the state as "negative and sensational".
The 70-year-old Chandy, in his second stint as chief minister, spoke to IANS -- his first interview to the media since the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls.
Chandy blamed the Left opposition for hyping the solar scam through their protests, when it was 'exposed' in 2013, but insisted that with time everything had fallen flat.
"We announced a judicial probe and till now they (opposition) have not been able to bring out anything on the scam. They tried their best to make political capital and all their protests to keep this issue alive not only failed but also did not yield any result," said Chandy.
The chief minister's office had been at the centre of the scam in which three of Chandy's staffers were linked to Saritha Nair, one of the key accused in the scandal. Nair, along with her live-in partner, is accused of cheating many investors promising to supply them solar panels worth millions of rupees.
Chandy lashed out at the media in Kerala for being negative and prone to sensationalism, leaving little scope for reporting on developmental issues.
"I am not saying they (media) have been unfair to me. It's the same when it comes to other parties and political personalities. I know they have nothing political or personal but it's just that they only want to sensationalise news," Chandy said.
The chief minister, however, said he does not rely on the media alone as far as popular outreach is concerned.
"While they (media) want controversies, I want results. A stage has come that I now ignore all that surfaces in the media. I have also worked out a strategy where I myself try to reach out to the people in various ways. For that I have to work harder and I am doing just that."
Asked about his party's prospects in the Lok Sabha polls, his face lit up. "History is going to repeat, and it would be even better than the 2009 result."
In 2009, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) secured 16 of the 20 seats. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) managed four.
Nearing the halfway period in power in Kerala, Chandy also expressed confidence in his governance and the achievements clocked in that period.
"Even before anyone asked or said it, I was the first to announce that the coming election will be a referendum on my government. I am very confident because everything is positive as there are no issues in my party and in the UDF. People here know what we have done," said Chandy.
Responding to the political challenge posed by the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats, which triggered a stir in the hilly districts of Kerala like Idukki and Wayanad, Chandy said the government went out of the way to work out a solution.
This was something, he claimed, no other state affected by the findings of the green report had done.
The chief minister said the wooing of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which quit the Left alliance after for over three decades, was not a case of political opportunism.
"We made it very clear to them (RSP) that there will be no talks with them until they exit LDF. We commenced talks with them after they formally announced their decision to come out."
(Posted on 17-03-2014)