Kochi: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remained almost silent on his ambitious K-Rail SilverLine project in his first election rally in the Thrikkakara assembly constituency where a bypoll is slated for May 31.
However, by the end of his speech, it looked like he had kept the topic for a catchy end punch. “K-Rail will come. No doubt about that,” Vijayan said, adding that he did not want to go into the details of it.
The chief minister was inaugurating the Left Democratic Front's (LDF) election convention at Palarivattom which was attended by a galaxy of leaders of the ruling front.
Seeking votes for CPM candidate Dr Jo Joseph, Vijayan said the constituency is ready to respond in a manner Kerala wishes. Vijayan tried to attach a huge amount of political significance to the bypoll, placing it in the context of the Left front's oft-repeated claims about emerging as an alternative to the alleged communally charged regime at the Centre.
Speaking at length about the attempts to scuttle the secular ethos of the country, Vijayan said the Congress party has been taking a compromising stand on communalism.
“An uncompromising stand is needed against communalism. Congress, which has the legacy of the national movement, often takes a compromising stand on such issues. It's unable to rise to the people's expectation when it comes to (fighting) communalism,” the CPM veteran said.
At Thrikkakara, CPM's Joseph is fighting Uma Thomas of the Congress. The bypoll was necessitated following the death of Uma's husband and Congress leader P T Thomas.
CPM's surprise pick of Joseph, a noted cardiologist as its candidate, had raised several eyebrows and triggered a political debate with the opposition parties alleging him to be a nominee of the Church. The opposition, the Congress-led United Democratic Front has since downplayed the allegation fearing it would backfire.
Vijayan played a deft move in his speech by raking up the charge, only to score a political point. “Opposition says Jo Joseph is a representative of the Sabha (Church). I also say that he is a representative of the Sabha. But the question is which Sabha? The answer is the Niyamasabha (assembly). He is going to be a member of Kerala's Niyamasabha,” Vijayan said amid a thunder of applause from his comrades.
He said the Thrikkakara bypoll was an opportunity to make the LDF's tally in the assembly a splendid hundred. The ruling front now has 99 of the 140 seats in the assembly.
K V Thomas gets rousing reception
The LDF election rally also turned out to be Congress leader K V Thomas' practical entry into the Left fold. Thomas, who had to face disciplinary action for attending a CPM event challenging a diktat from the Congress, came to the meet when Vijayan was midway through his speech. There was nothing surprising about it as Thomas had on Thursday announced that he would campaign for the CPM candidate.
LDF convener E P Jayarajan honoured the former Union minister with a shawl.
Vijayan said Thomas came to the LDF meet because he stood for development of the state.
Later addressing the meet, Thomas heaped praises on Vijayan just like he did when he attended the controversial seminar on the sidelines of the CPM Party Congress in Kannur last month. He was also critical of the Congress' decision to field Uma Thomas in Thrikkakara saying it was against P T Thomas'stern stand against dynasty politics.
Meanwhile, Vijayan listed out the achievements of his previous government in the fields of agriculture, industries and business and mentioned his pet projects like Life Mission housing scheme even as accusing the opposition UDF of standing against every development projects the Left regime has initiated.
He repeated Industries Minister P Rajeev's recent allegation that the UDF MPs did not raise their voice in Parliament for the speedy completion of the second phase of Kochi Metro.
“The LDF government has been trying to extend the Metro, but the Centre is not allowing its speedy completion. The UDF MPs couldn't even raise their voice against the Centre's stance. Why can't they? Isn't it a common need of the state. They are, nevertheless, not reluctant to raise their voice against the development of the state. They could even create a ruckus and lead to clash with the police on Parliament premises,” he said. Vijayan was referring to a clash between UDF MPs and the security personnel on Parliament premises when the former staged a protest against the SilverLine project. Even at that point, the CM did not mention the semi high-speed rail project. But then at the end, he brought up the topic, reiterating the LDF's poll plank about Thrikkara becoming a centre of development as Kakkanad in the constituency is supposed to become a connecting point between the Kochi Metro, SilverLine and Water Metro. “To realise these development goals, we need Jo Joseph with us,” he said.