The Kerala Congress (B) chairman R Balakrishna Pillai on Wednesday said the anti-defection law was not uniformly applied to disqualify the Kerala Congress (Joseph) legislators who shifted their loyalty to the Kerala Congress (M) through a recent merger.
Replying to the meet-the-press programme, organised here by the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club in the context of the upcoming local bodies’ elections, Mr. Pillai recalled how he had been disqualified as a legislator way back in 1989 when he split from the Kerala Congress (Joseph) to float his own party. “I was disqualified for violating the mandate of the United Democratic Front. If the same yardstick were to be used, Mr. Joseph and his co-legislators should have been disqualified. However, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) gunned for him then, let the Kerala Congress (Joseph) off the hook,” he said.
Referring to the seat sharing process in the UDF, he said there was no justification for allotting the same number of seats that new entrants to the United Democratic Front had won on a Left Democratic Front mandate. He was referring primarily to the merger of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) with the Kerala Congress (M) and the admittance of the Socialist Democratic Janata party of M P Veerendra Kumar.
Mr. Pillai, who fielded questions in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, said was confident about the prospects of the UDF in the local bodies’ elections. “We can easily win a majority of the local bodies in the current political situation. If we work a bit more hard, it can even be a sweep,” he said.
He said disputes related to seat sharing was not confined to the UDF alone and the LDF too beset with it. Going by the current situation and the fact that local conditions such as the candidates’ profile and communal configurations, his assessment was that no political formation will get an upper hand.
The UDF will focus on the large scale corruption in implementing plan and Central Government schemes and the ineffectual functioning of local bodies, a huge majority of them controlled by the CPI (M)-led LDF. He admitted that there were quite a few problems in seat sharing among coalition partners despite the UDF preparing a formula. But these would be sorted out before nominations end on October 5.
He said he did not have much to complain about the number of seats allotted to his party. In some areas, his party had sacrificed a few seats in the larger interests of the coalition, but had gained in some other areas. In reply to a question, he said the Nair Service Society will be the prime beneficiary of its policy of maintaining equidistance with political parties. The NSS has been following this policy consistently since 1948 and its current policy had been unambiguously pronounced by its leadership, he said.
Replying to the CPI (M)’s allegation that the Church was interfering in politics, Mr. Pillai said the Church had the right to give direction to its community members to protect their interests. He did not agree with the CPI (M)’s approach towards this issue because it had turned against religious leaders only when their support was not forthcoming.
He accused the Education Minister M A Baby of messing up the higher education sector by turning upside down the Antony Government’s policy on self-financing professional institutions and going in for inconsistent agreements with the managements of these institutions. “Who is responsible for the plight of 80-odd students who would be disqualified in their third year of professional study because the institutions violated the MCI norms?” he asked.