To counter Opposition front’s charges politically

Worried by the mounting controversy over the conduct of Emerging Kerala, the ruling United Democratic Front’s (UDF) liaison committee, which is meeting here on Thursday, is expected to devise a political strategy to prevent the big-ticket investor meet, slated from September 12 to 14, from losing its credibility.

The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) has already expressed its reservations about the objectives of Emerging Kerala. Leader of the Opposition and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader V.S. Achuthanandan has launched a massive campaign against some of the proposals to be presented before the summit. A prime agenda of the meeting will be to dissect the stand of the LDF, besides looking at the individual positions taken by its constituents prior to formulating a political strategy to counter the move.

Political campaign

According to UDF sources, the current campaign against Emerging Kerala is politically motivated because the CPI (M) State committee did not specify its stand on the issue at its recent meeting. The attempt to kick up controversies on the eve of the event needed to be properly evaluation, sources said. The UDF would formulate an appropriate reaction to the LDF’s stand which was proclaimed soon after its meeting on August 31.

Dissent within

But the UDF leadership has a bigger headache to tackle – the voice of dissonance within the front. The green politics projected by certain leaders have already come up for public debate, adding wind to the Opposition’s sail. The UDF leadership can only blame itself for the opposition within because it had failed to discuss in detail the contents of Emerging Kerala. There was a general understanding about the dos and don’ts, but this apparently did not percolate down, generating suspicion about the meet’s objectives. Senior UDF leaders feel that the coalition needs to bring in clarity regarding certain issues, including the land earmarked for various projects and convince its own leaders.

Another issue that will be discussed is the divergent perceptions about Emerging Kerala among various departments. The Revenue Department has already put its foot down on surrendering prime property in its possession for INKEL, in which the State government has only a 26 per cent stake. The differences have only added to the suspicion about the real objectives of the event.

Ministers’ stance

Addressing a gathering at the Kerala Environment Convention organised by the Paristhithi Aikya Vedi here on Monday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had said his government would not sell even an inch of public land to promote industrial development in the State. “All the proposals will be thoroughly screened to ensure that the State’s interests are protected. Public land will be leased out to investors, but the government will retain the ownership rights. For private land, the government will have a package to compensate the owners with the market price,” he had said.

Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty has maintained that the State will accept only those proposals which are environment-friendly. The liaison committee would take a major step to bridge the growing credibility gap.