ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kerala's Decentralised Planning

The ruling Left Front leadership has been quick to claim the results of the recent civic elections in Kerala as vindicating its policies in general and the people's plan programme in particular. The Congress-led UDF has, on the other hand, claimed that the results were the people's verdict against the Left Front's misrule and especially, the partisan manner in which the people's plan has been implemented by the CPI(M). The ground reality, however, is rather more complicated.

Two setbacks in quick succession can pose serious problems even for a seasoned and seemingly tough leadership. That precisely is what the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front leadership is hard put to cope with in Kerala. Hardly had it recovered from the unexpected drubbing it received at the polls to the local bodies early last month when it came under severe attack in the wake of the tragic death of more than a score of men and women following the consumption of illicit liquor. For all its public postures and private inquisitions, the front leadership is clearly on the mat. And for once the battle is being fought single by the CPI(M), the other constituents of the LDF being largely content with providing no more than their silent support.

It is however the timing of the twin setbacks that is discomforting coming as they did so uncomfortably close to the crucial elections to the state assembly, due early next year. The wailing over the human tragedy and the alleged nexus between the CPI(M) and the liquor lobby in the state will doubtless subside once the promised judicial inquiry gets into the act. There are other factors as well. There had been worse tragedies involving larger number of human lives with much the same liquor lobbies behind them when the Congress-led United Democratic Front was in power. And with few exceptions, all political parties have at some time or other flirted with the powerful, cash-rich liquor lobby in the state as the now accused of doing. The CPI(M) is now being pilloried partly because it is in power and hence, well positioned to decide and distribute patronage and partly because it has been reportedly a big beneficiary in recent times of the munificence of the liquor lobby. Since the latter is loath to do anything without a quid pro quo, juicy stories of a possible deal between the two are doing the rounds.

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