To cover the length of the State in a few days
After weathering a stormy Assembly session marked by attacks by the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF), Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is back on his fast-track mode, launching a mass-contact programme that will take him to most parts of the State in the next few days.
After steering the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to a modest victory, Mr. Chandy had coined the ‘move fast and get far' slogan as his government's motto.
It was in tune with this approach that he launched the first 100 days' programme covering all the departments, which, according to the UDF, has been a success.
Known for his ability to endure a punishing schedule, often stretching day and night, Mr. Chandy received thousands of petitions on a host of subjects from aggrieved persons and made on-the-spot suggestions the very first day of the mass-contact campaign in Kozhikode on Saturday.
With politics turning murkier in the last couple of months with a determined LDF exploiting them to its full advantage, the government's fast-paced approach has been dulled to a certain extent.
In view of its thin majority in the Assembly, Mr. Chandy and his Cabinet colleagues were forced to remain in the State capital for much of the past two months.
Considering this, the State-wide campaign assumes political significance as it is also an exercise for Chandy to put across a message to the people that he is leading a government committed to their welfare.
“The response to the campaign has been quite overwhelming. People of all age groups, from all walks of life, turned up with their problems and returned greatly relieved,” a spokesman for the Chief Minister said.
A crucial Assembly by-election is to take place in the State in six months for Piravom in Ernakulam district, which fell vacant following the death of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader T.M. Jacob, who was the Food Minister.
The by-election is seen as a litmus test for the UDF in general and Mr. Chandy in particular.
Jacob's death has further narrowed down the UDF majority in the 140-member Assembly.
According to political observers, if the UDF fails to retain Piravom, it can shake the government.
The Kerala Congress (Jacob) has already announced Jacob's son, Anoop Jacob, as the party's nominee for the by-election, the date for which is yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
The Congress, as lead partner, is unlikely to oppose the proposal expecting that the sympathy factor will help Mr. Anoop Jacob sail through smoothly, where his father had won by just 157 votes in the April 13 Assembly elections.
After turning the heat on Mr. Chandy and his team during the Assembly session, the LDF has shown no sign of scaling down its hostilities towards the government.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has made it clear that the LDF would continue its protests demanding that Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Government Chief Whip P.C. George be sacked for their diatribe against its leaders. — PTI