If solar panel scam has exposed the myth of transparency woven around the office of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his handling of the LDF agitation has come under sharp attack for wrong strategies. In the last one week, Kerala saw Chandy going to unprecedented length to foil the agitation demanding his exit. Finally, he was forced to give in and order a judicial probe, a demand in the air for the past two months.
In Kerala, where agitation is common in front of the state secretariat, never before a government had sought paramilitary forces to take on political rivals. In the past, Chandy had reckoned the presence of such forces in Kerala even at election times as a failure of the ruling party.
The steps to throttle the flow of LDF workers to the state capital have taken a toll on Chandy’s image. Hotels were issued notices to not lodge the Left supporters coming for the siege. Even public toilets were put under watch to prevent the agitators from using them.
The steps had not only rejuvenated the morale of the Left but also helped the Opposition win more public and media support.
Even many Congress leaders believe that had Chandy not resorted to such steps, the Left agitation would not have mobilised into such a movement.
On Monday, worried over the massive protest, he was forced to declare special holidays for the state secretariat. Chandy’s desperate bid to wriggle out of the situation was evident on Tuesday when he invited insignificant allies Kerala Congress (B) and CMP to find a way out of the deadlock. Kerala Congress (B) chairman R Balakrishna Pillai had even taken a dig at Chandy for resorting to minor allies only at the hour of crisis.
When he finally announced the decision to go for a judicial probe, Chandy was climbing down from the adamant stand which he had been sticking to for the past two months. In between, his image as a leader with open, humane approach suffered a dent.