The first march taken out by M V Govindan as state secretary of the CPM was intended to mobilize public opinion against the policies of the BJP-led Central Government.
However, when the ‘Janakeeya Prathirodha Jatha’ (people’s resistance march) concluded, it was the state’s political situation which witnessed turmoil. Govindan speaks to ‘Manorama’ against the background of issues ranging from the fresh allegations raised by diplomatic gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh against the Chief Minister and the party secretary to the scuffle between the ruling and oppositions legislators in the Assembly.
Could you make people aware of the issues highlighted during the march?
We succeeded in exposing the raw deal given to Kerala by the Centre in financial matters. While the state emerged on top in various sectors, the Central Government attempted to throw a spanner in the works. Not only was the state denied its due share of money but even the credit limit was reduced. It is a miracle that Kerala has survived the crisis.
Is it not an irony that CPM conducted a march in Kerala against the BJP, which has a limited presence in the state? At the same time, the Congress claims that it is fighting the BJP at the national level.
The reality is that let alone the national level, the Congress is no match for the BJP even in the states. In the recent elections in some states, the Congress could win only a few seats. The Congress won even those seats only because parties such as the CPM ensured that all anti-BJP votes remained united. Moreover, with a mere 44 Lok Sabha seats can the Congress be an alternative to the BJP?
In that case, would Congress have no role in the anti-BJP front envisaged by the CPM?
We are not planning a national alternative, but are considering each state as a separate unit. The aim is to unify all anti-BJP votes in every state. If the Congress tries to play the big brother, it will not win a single seat. In fact, regional parties are not willing to join any alliance led by the Congress at the national level.
You were forced to explain some Kerala-based controversies during the march instead of those on the original agenda?
I have replied to all the allegations raised against the state government. No controversy has tarnished the reputation of the government. Instead, support for the government has grown.
As party secretary, you have sent a defamation notice to Swapna over some allegations. But, others such as the Chief Minister who faced similar allegations from Swapna did not do so.
The Chief Minister and his family have been attacked over this issue for some years now. The public has already rejected the allegations during the last Assembly elections. So, it would be senseless for the Chief Minister to seek to legal action on this matter. But, I have been named for the first time and for this reason, I sent the notice.
Isn’t M V Govindan attempting to improve his image by taking out the march and initiating legal procedures against Swapna?
I have no intention to improve my personal image. The party’s image is my priority. I am leading the march only because I am the party secretary.
M Sivasankar, once a key person in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), has been arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED). Another important person in the CMO, C M Ravindran, has been questioned by the agency. Has the party lost its traditional control over the government?
Sivasankar’s issue is a closed chapter. If an officer takes some wrong decisions, what can the Chief Minister do? Moreover, he was a good officer until the Swapna case came up. As far as the questioning a person by ED concerned, it’s no big deal.
The Opposition alleges that the state government is following the Centre’s policies in crushing protests?
Does the Opposition have any genuine issue to protest? In the Assembly, they brought in a motion over some kid and assaulted the Watch and Ward staff. The media is glorifying the protests. However, the public will not support the Opposition. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) also has staged protests with lakhs of people, during which nobody was hurt.
Do you support the government’s handling of issues such as SilverLine, Vizhinjam stir and fuel price hike?
The police are part of the Indian administrative system. The state government can only frame policies. It because of this policy of the Pinarayi Government that no firing on protesters was ordered even after they had attacked police personnel and the police station at Vizhinjam and other places. Similarly, the Chief Minister travels in a big convoy only to save people who jump in front of his vehicle.
CPM too has conducted similar agitations.
Thousands of people joined our strikes in places like Koothuparamba. But the present protests have no popular support.
Have the CPM and its youth wing, the DYFI, been able to retain their aggressive attitude during the consecutive term of the LDF?
We have proved our strength during the protest against the Governor.
Don’t you feel that the government has failed in issues such as Sabarimala and Church dispute?
The reality is that Sabarimala had no impact during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Kerala’s minorities voted for the Congress believing that the party and Rahul Gandhi could play a big role at the national level. Meanwhile, the Orthodox-Jacobite Chirch dispute is decades’ old. Whenever an issue persists for a long time, the government has to intervene.
What is your stand on Rahul Gandhi contesting again from Kerala?
We will certainly oppose him and try to defeat him. But, Rahul cannot win in Wayanad without the support of the Muslim League, which is the strongest party in the United Democratic Front (UDF). Congress cannot win even a single seat on its own.
Is the CPM cozying up to the Muslim League?
Their political line and decisions on various issues are crucial in forming any understanding with them. If we welcome one political stand of the Muslim League, it doesn’t mean that we are inviting them to the LDF.
Suresh Gopi has said that the BJP will win in Kannur, apart from Thrissur. The BJP is focusing on six Lok Sabha seats in Kerala.
They will never ever win a single seat in Kerala!
You were trolled over some incidents during the march such as your scolding the mike operator.
I don’t pay attention to trolls. Nor do I listen to negative comments. I only asked the mike operator to stay away from me while I was speaking. Was that an insult?
What are your plans after the ‘jatha’?
We will bring everyone who have moved away back to the party-fold. People from other parties such as the Congress too can join us. They will be accommodated with suitable tasks.
Parties like RMP left your alliance over ideological differences.
We have had no ideological differences with anyone, including the RMP. They too can return to the LDF; but not as a party but as individuals.
You mentioned SilverLine everywhere during the march. Do you genuinely believe that the project would become a reality?
SilverLine can be realized only when the present Central Government is changed. Both the BJP and the Congress want to witness no development in Kerala. They sabotage big projects and accuse the state of having no projects. The aim of the LDF government is to raise the living standards of the people. We have adopted 64,000 extremely poor families and are ensuring that there is no landless person in the state.