Pinarayi faces scorching bouncers in second innings, loses first wicket

Saji Cheriyan. Photo: Manorama Online.

Thiruvananthapuram: The second Pinarayi Vijayan government has completed one year in office. The one year had not been a smooth sail with about a dozen allegations rocking the government, besides a debacle at the Thrikkakara by-election, for which Pinarayi Vijayan himself had led the campaign in the hope of touching the magic figure, 100, in the State legislative Assembly.

Adding to the woes, CPM leader Saji Cheriyan had to step down from the cabinet following his remarks, which the Opposition alleged, insulted the Indian Constitution and its architect, Dr B R Ambedkar.

Cheriyan's remarks and the consequent resignation came at a time the party and government have been facing a set of serious allegations.

The government assumed power in May 2021 with the confidence of having the support of 99 members. The government, however, seems to have the Sadim touch, with almost everything that it has been doing going wrong.

No other government in the State had courted these many controversies during its first year in office. The first controversy of the second Pinarayi government was over the adoption of Anupama S Chandran's son.

Anupama, daughter of a local CPM leader in Thiruvananthapuram, alleged that her newborn was given up for adoption without the consent of her or her partner.

Neither the CPM nor the government did not act against the party leaders who had aided the adoption of the baby boy.

Instead, the government and CPM quelled the controversy by reuniting the baby with his mother. The government, ostensibly, forgot its moral responsibilities while making such an intervention.

The government found itself in the dock after it diluted the powers of the Lok Ayukta. It took away the anti-graft watchdog's powers to act against corruption, but made it into a body that could only recommend action.

The government did not provide a satisfactory answer to questions on the logic behind diluting the Lok Ayukta's powers, especially since Pinarayi himself had earlier opposed the amendment that suggested toning down the anti-graft body's powers.

Then came the controversy over appointments to universities. The government initially did not relent even as the Governor protested the manner in which appointments were made.

But as the date for the Governor's policy speech neared, the government sought ways for a compromise. Close on the heels of the appointment row, another controversy was triggered with the government going ahead with its plan to conduct the survey for the Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod semi-high-speed SilverLine rail-corridor project.

Despite statewide protests against planting survey marker stones, Pinarayi went ahead with the plan, often by using force.

The laying of stones was put on hold once the campaign for the Thrikkakara bypoll began. But it did not help as the UDF trounced LDF to retain the seat. The government highlighted the majority it has in the Assembly -- 99 MLAs -- once again to counter the taunts it had to face over the poll debacle.

The Chief Minister, however, has not yet commented on the poll outcome. Soon after the government had celebrated its first anniversary in power with pomp, Swapna Suresh, an accused in the gold smuggling case, made a string of allegations, putting the government and the CPM on the backfoot.

After the government had faltered in countering Swapna's allegations, it faced several setbacks.

The detention of PS Sarith, the first accused in the smuggling case, and the drama that followed and the intervention of an ADGP as a middleman, sparked more doubts in the mind of the public. The ban on black-coloured clothings to prevent the Opposition from waving black flags at the chief minister had to be withdrawn as it led to widespread protests.

The gold smuggling case once again became the talking point following the chief minister's outburst in the Assembly when fingers were pointed at his daughter.

Though repeated moves were made to arrest PC George before the Thrikkakara bypoll, the government machinery could not detain the former MLA. SFI workers launched an attack on Rahul Gandhi's office in Wayanad without the party's knowledge, which tainted the CPM's image at the national level.

The July 1 attack on AKG Centre, located in Thiruvananthapuram city centre, too, has put the CPM on the defensive, with the Congress accusing the Left party of orchestrating the attack on its State headquarters. Even almost a week after the incident, the police were yet to find the miscreant, which could help the CPM counter the charge levelled against it.

Even as the government has been trying to untie the knots one after the other, a video of Saji Cheriyan's controversial speech was made public, which led to the fall of the first wicket in Pinarayi's second innings at the helm.

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