The embarrassing taunts of the opposition over the absence of Pinarayi Vijayan from the ruling Left Democratic Front’s campaign for the local body elections have forced the chief minister to ensure his physical presence in the second leg of electioneering in his home turf of Kannur.
Public campaigning for the first phase ended on Sunday, with the opposition United Democratic Front fully exploiting Pinarayi’s absence, which they attributed to the chief minister’s loss of credibility in view of the alleged involvement of his office in the gold smuggling and other scams.
The opposition alleged that even the CPI-M election symbol of sickle and hammer suffered a stigma with the voters. The ruling front has been at a loss to properly explain Pinarayi’s absence, with some of its leaders claiming that it was in keeping with the Covid protocol.
The chief minister is now expected hold public meetings, mainly in his own constituency, which are being projected as meetings to review the progress of his government’s welfare programmes.
The first phase saw the LDF turn the campaign heat to alleged liaison between Congress and BJP, describing them as ‘birds of the same feather flocking together’ for the UDF support to the investigations by the central agencies.
CPI-M believes that the line will help the party take attention away from the numerous corruption scandals that are dogging the government’s image in its last year in office. The central agencies have timed the questioning of CM’s additional private secretary C M Raveendran with the first leg voting on Tuesday, which the CPI-M sees as politically motivated.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala claimed that the charge of Congress-BJP liaison by the LDF has been prompted by the fear of defeat. BJP, on the other hand, alleges that the UDF and LDF have come together to stop the saffron party’s advance and cites the CBI’s soft-pedalling in the Lavalin case in the Supreme Court, which is supposed to decide whether Pinarayi Vijayan has to stand trial in a corruption case relating to his tenure as electricity minister in the Nayanar government.
Congress claims that the chief minister would soon be behind bars as the investigating agencies close in on his office through his confidants, but the CPI-M retaliates by saying that it is the opposition leader who will go to jail as the state government has initiated a Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau probe into an allegation that bar owners had paid bribe to him when he was the state Congress chief.
BJP, on its part, claims that both Pinarayi and Chennithala would soon be behind bars for their respective roles in corrupt deals.