Unity in Cong. will reflect in Thrikkakara bypoll outcome: Satheesan

V.D. Satheeshan

V.D. Satheeshan

The lead face of the United Democratic Front’s (UDF) electoral battle to retain the Thrikkakara Assembly constituency, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan spoke to G. Krishnakumar on the Congress party’s poll prospects and how it is taking on a spirited campaign by the Left Democratic Front. Excerpts:

Will this byelection be a test of the new leadership combo of K. Sudhakaran-V.D. Satheesan in the Kerala unit of the Congress party?

A change has emerged in the Congress party as we could announce the candidate unanimously within 24 hours of the declaration of the byelection. All the major leaders are fighting the election unitedly. The Congress is now working like a cadre party. We have already completed house visits in the constituency. The party workers are in an upbeat mood. This change will definitely reflect in the outcome of the Thrikkakara byelection in favour of the UDF.

Do you think that the voters will be influenced by the Left's campaign that the Congress is anti-development as it is opposing a project like the SilverLine rail corridor?

No. Instead, we have got an opportunity to expose the opposition by the Left to various development projects implemented by the United Democratic Front, including Kochi Metro Rail, Cochin International Airport Ltd., Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium at Kaloor and the GAIL pipeline. The public would not buy their sudden claims of being development-oriented as they were against change in various sectors. On K-Rail, we are placing a new development paradigm that should be modelled on sustainability. Kerala will have to take into account the impact of the extreme weather events while initiating developmental projects. The SilverLine will be a disaster as the long embankments will worsen the flood scenario. How will a government that is in deep debt and struggling to pay salary to its employees implement this multi-crore project?

You have accused the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] of trying to appease religious and caste-based organisations and of going soft on its stance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The CPI(M) is no longer a Left party as they are behaving like the BJP, which uses all weapons in its armour to win an election. This [Left] is an extreme right government. It is a shame for a State like Kerala as Ministers and MLAs in the Left government are visiting people belonging to their religion and community to canvass votes in Thrikkakara. In the name of social engineering, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is indulging in blatant appeasement politics. The CPI(M) and the Sangh Parivar leadership have a working arrangement in the State. It has also assured extreme religious organisations like the Social Democratic Party of India protection from police cases for electoral gains.

Have you initiated any talks with Twenty20 and the Aam Aadmi Party as they are not fielding a candidate in Thrikkakara?

We have not initiated any dialogue with them while welcoming their decision not to field a candidate this time. They will vote against the government and naturally it will favour the United Democratic Front. Though we have difference of opinion with the Twenty20 as their presence had affected the victory of four Congress candidates in the previous Assembly election, we had opposed the government move against an industry in Kizhakkambalam. It was a loss for Kerala as the company management went to Telangana and laid the foundation stone for their new project there.

On the police case against Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran over his controversial remarks against Pinarayi Vijayan?

The case registered under section 153 (deliberately giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will fail the legal test. The credit of having used the maximum number of derogatory words should go to the Chief Minister. It is a pity that the government, which failed to even file a proper case against P.C. George for making communal statements, has booked a case against K. Sudhakaran for using a colloquialism.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 7:42:22 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/unity-in-cong-will-reflect-in-thrikkakara-bypoll-outcome-satheesan/article65429947.ece