R. Ramabhadran Pillai

Two former bureaucrats test the electoral waters


The Kerala elections have an `IAS' touch this time. Two former Indian Administrative Services officers, Alphons Kannanthanam and P.C. Cyriac, are now testing the electoral waters.

Mr. Kannanthanam, with a reputation for toughness, is in the fray in Kanjirappally, a largely agrarian constituency. He resigned as Commissioner in the Kerala Land Use Board just days before entering the electoral battle. Mr. Kannanthanam is the LDF-supported Independent candidate in Kanjirapally.

Mr. Kannanthanam, who made headlines when he cracked down on illegal structures in New Delhi, enjoys the challenge of facing the electorate. Getting up early and walking across muddy paddy fields, clad in a dhoti, for a chat with the voters comes easily to him.

"Society has given me power and position. It is necessary to repay some of it," says the man dubbed the "demolition man" for his crackdown in New Delhi.

What is it that propelled him into politics? Is it the possible political clout? "I had seven years to go (in my IAS career). I was doing one of the most powerful jobs in Kerala. I was supervising the Collectors. I could have become the Chief Secretary, if I continued in service. Even if I become an MLA, there is no comparison with that," he retorts.

Then why did he quit the IAS? It is "a desire to serve people." How did he land up in the company of politicians? "There are quite a few good people in politics. I want to prove that politicians can be honest, not crooks," he says.

P.C. Cyriac, who has filed his papers in the Muvattupuzha Assembly constituency, is also in the fray as an Independent, but without the support of either the LDF or the UDF.

Having had made his mark in the administrative service in various positions, including stints as Rubber Board Chairman and Industries Secretary in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Cyriac quit two years before retirement.

"The two Fronts in Kerala are in confrontation with each other. There is none to analyse issues dispassionately," says Mr. Cyriac.

He wants to keep away from party politics. "If you are a member of a party, you are bound by the party's policies," he observes.

He enjoys the support of various organisations, including Infarm, a body of farmers with strong support in the constituency.

Mr. Cyriac launched a news publication in Malayalam, Kochi Vaarta, a few months ago. He also backed the cause of farmers at the WTO farm consultations, organised recently in Kochi by UNCTAD.