The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government appears confident that the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition will have to scrounge for politically consequential material to put the administration in the dock during the Kerala Legislative Assembly’s 32-day-long Budget session that kicks off on Monday.
It has walked the extra mile to deny the Opposition any edge in the House. For one, the LDF has given a wide berth to contentious issues in the government’s policy address, hopefully denying any ground for Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to voice disapproval.
The government has accepted the resignation of the official accused of caste discrimination at the K.R. Narayanan Film Institute, pre-empted an emotive Church-backed mass agitation in the buffer zone issue, and removed felonious officers from service in “feverish haste” to disarm the Opposition.
The LDF also hopes to cash in on the “disarray” in the UDF caused by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor MP’s “private political pitch for future Chief Ministership by brazenly courting community leaders without organisational approval” to unsettle the Opposition.
The government also seems to perceive a reluctant ally in the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which had extended qualified support to the contentious legislation to remove the Governor as Chancellor of State universities in the previous session. The Opposition hopes to target the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] by reeling out instances of misconduct by party members, including the nepotism charges against LDF convener E.P. Jayarajan.
It has portrayed LDF’s run-ins with Mr. Khan as shadowboxing between tacit allies bonded by the Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI(M)‘s shared objective of undermining the Congress. The UDF might assail the government on “police corruption”, the “failure” to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, prioritising conservation over livelihood in the buffer zone issue, the State’s growing debt burden, and other bread-and-butter issues.
It will likely focus on “unjustified fiscal profligacy for political appeasement”, particularly the recent appointment of expelled Congress leader K.V. Thomas as special representative with Cabinet rank in New Delhi.
Given the Budget session’s protracted nature and the possibility of other prickly civic issues cropping up, it might be difficult for the government to run down the clock on the Opposition.