By Sanu V George
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 20 | Bucking the trend that a sitting government will end up in the opposition ranks, Pinarayi Vijayan stormed into a second term but as he completes six months, he has nothing much to boast about.
Vijayan was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the second consecutive term on May 20.
Looking back, many feel that had it not been for the Covid pandemic, Vijayan would have failed to breast the tape in the April 6 Assembly polls, as he used it to his advantage by distributing free food kits to every family in the state through the ration shops.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said the rough and tough demeanour of Vijayan came handy for him when the pandemic was at its peak.
“Vijayan emerged as the first Chief Minister to cancel the routine weekly media briefing. As the country went into lockdown, every day after sunset, he addressed the people and soon it became the most watched TV programme. Soon the international media queued up to know how Kerala managed the Covid cases, when even the developed nations failed,” said the source.
Riding on the confidence of the people, the Vijayan-led Left won a resounding win in the 2020 local body polls. Even though the Covid scenario in the state had changed, for fear of a backlash from the people, the Congress led Opposition went silent. When the votes were counted on May 2, Vijayan created history.
After coming to power once again, Vijayan decided against including anybody from his previous team and in the process left out state Health Minister K.K. Shailaja, to the dismay of many. In the capacity of a health minister, Shailaja had earned huge appreciation not just within the country but abroad too for deftly handling the pandemic.
There was not even a slightest of protest and he handpicked his team allocating his son-in-law P.A. Mohammed Riyas, a first time legislator, the plum post of Public Works and Tourism.
And in his team from the CPI-M, the only one who had previous experience was just one — K. Radhakrishnan.
In the past six months, he has nothing much to boast about and the only mega project that he bats for — the Silverline Project (proposed high speed rail corridor connecting the two ends of the state) has been mired in controversy and fiercely opposed by the Congress and the BJP.
The government has courted controversies like in the Mullaperiyar dam issue, the fake antique dealer case, the case of the missing baby. Also, the way numerous trees were cut down in Mullaperiyar on a government order which was later withdrawn, put Vijayan in a spot.
“Just look, ever since these controversies broke out, Vijayan has ducked the media and even during two Assembly sessions, he spoke only when he wanted to. His silence on crucial issues, especially when the state is passing through its hardest times financially, is being questioned.
“When Narendra Modi reduced fuel prices, he was among the very few heads of states in the country, who decided not to follow it. He always has the last word in the party and the government. And with no elections in the coming nearly three years, Vijayan will apparently have a smooth sailing but whether it will prove to be boon or bane for the state, only time will tell,” added the critic.