They might be having all sorts of problems enforcing a progressive, uniform tax throughout the country, but if there is one thing that has been embraced most gladly in all parts of the country, it is political corruption. Whatever be their ideological, personal, or other differences, the inordinate greed for money, licit, if possible, otherwise, illicit now defines the entire political class. Even a self-avowedly most progressive State in the country boasting of one hundred percent literacy is not exempt from the taint of political corruption.
Shockingly, not even when the Communists rule the roast in the State. The case in point is the strictures passed against the Transport Minister Thomas Chandy in the Pinarayi Vijayan Government by the Kerala High Court. Chandy was accused of encroaching on public land in an environmentally sensitive location, a fact duly established by an inquiry by the Alappuzha district authorities. He diverted the course of the rivulets and encroached upon the paddy fields for adding further commercial heft to his Lake Palace resort. Chandy, the wealthiest member of the State Assembly with assets close to Rs. 100 crores declared in his affidavit to the Election Commission, runs the resort in partnership with a few others. When the encroachment first became a matter of public controversy, he denied it outright.
Following public hue and cry, the Revenue Minister, who belongs to the CPI, ordered the district collector to inquire. Instead of respecting the findings, Chandy rubbished the report, saying it was biased. He went to the High Court on Tuesday, which berated the minister for questioning the report of his own government. On Wednesday, following popular pressure for his exit, the CPI ministers boycotted the Cabinet meeting in protest against Chandy’s continuance. They accused the CM of shielding the tainted minister. Late in the evening, Chandy was obliged to quit, even though he still protests his innocence. Chandy is a member of the two-member NCP legislature party. The other NCP MLA, A K Saseendran, is facing allegations of sexual molestation by a woman journalist. The report of a judicial commission examining the charge is still awaited.
This leaves the NCP without representation in the State government. But such is the electoral fragility of the caste-and community-linked politics in Kerala that the Chief Minister is keen to keep the two NCP MLAs in good humor, even though he has a comfortable majority. In short, what matters is power and how you retain it is unimportant so long you hold on to it under all circumstances. It is a comment on the vulnerability of all parties, the Kerala CPI(M) included, that they must embrace the corrupt and criminal caste leaders since the identity politics has made them count electorally.