Sunday, October 08, 2006

How many naughty politicians does it take to screw Kerala?

In the movie, the Patriot, the legendary Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) questions the revolutionary forces recruiting men for their war against England, “"Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away?" The question although posed in a colonial setting is relevant to anyone who is concerned about who leads Kerala. Let me digress for a moment.

The 2004 General Elections in Kerala may not have seemed very different from previous elections, but was unique in one aspect. It was the first time a 25-member team called Election Watch Kerala organized the first public dissemination of information concerning electoral candidates from Kerala. It was widely publicized in local magazines and newspapers. If the name of the organization sounds familiar, it’s also because the parent NGO, Election Watch, is based in Andhra Pradesh where it has been monitoring electoral rolls for quite some years now. One of the main conclusions of Election Watch Kerala’s public report was that "unlike many other states, Kerala does not have a serious problem of criminals entering the election arena. Most cases declared by candidates relate to law and order issues and are a by product of Kerala's agitation politics."

Note that this is the same period that threw up erstwhile candidates as Babloo Shrivastava into the election foray. So it should come as no surprise that Kerala seems to be better off. Or is it?

It is true that by and large, Kerala does not have a significant influx of candidates with criminal backgrounds into elections. However, there is the problem of Kerala's “agitation" politics, which is an issue that has grown uncontrollably. Of all the Indian states, Kerala is most prone to strikes and hartals, which effectively shuts down essential and non-essential services in the state.

Whenever I ask people what they think about how to put an end to this situation, it appears that we run against a wall. There is a perception that every political party is in a cartel favouring this method of political protest. What I want to know is how widespread is that notion. So, I propose a survey:

Do you think that hartals and shutdowns are favoured by:
1) A minority of the political parties?
2) Almost every party in Kerala?

It may be fair to ask what is the point of this survey. Well, I have been doing some research on the side and looking at the 2006 State Assembly electoral rolls myself. There were more than 900 candidates in the election, so I have been a little busy for a while. But, I think it would be interesting to test this hypothesis by analyzing the criminal backgrounds of these candidates and looking at their penchant for hartals and violence – behaviour that our dear Chief Minister labelled as “naughty”.

If you haven’t caught on to the significance of the answer, consider for a second what would happen if the electoral rolls suggested that option (1) was the answer. I say “suggest” because there is a leap of reasoning you have to make. But if there is one ideology amidst others that promotes this form of protest, then I think that’s of concern to everyone who hates Kerala’s 1 shutdown a month practice. Wouldn’t you want to know if you were being ruled by one tyrant or too many?

So, tell me, how “naughty” do you think our politicians are?


Blogger kochuthresiamma p .j said...

i too feel strongly about the role of politicians in making a mess of kerala - in fact ( despite my rsolutions not to write about this issue anymore)i have been blogging about this after the chuickungunya outbreak.
reg the questions u posed - i feel all parties use bandhs and hartalbut the marxist party uses them in the most shameful manner. hartals and bandhs form the staple food of the style of functioning of the marxist party WHEN THEY ARE IN THE OPPOSITION.the left in kerala is a power crazed party with loyalty only to the party and none whatsoever to the state. while in opposition, the only aim of the left is to make governance impossible for the ruling party so that kerala electorate would continue its seesaw tradition at the hustings.
if you have the machinery to do it, y dont u make a study of the no: of hartals and bandhs organised by each party and u'll find that the marxist will get a gold medal for its achievements in this area!

like u said, kerala does not head the list of states with politicians with a criminal background. but criminalisation of politics and politicising crime are the speciality of kerala politics.

i think udf lost on acct of three reasons.1. they could not effectively counter the left's hartal, bandh politics. 2.they could not sell their achievement which was rather commendable despite the shameful blockade of the state by the left and the infighting in the congress party. vylar ravi mentined this in an intterview with an english channel- the question is why didnt the UDF market itself - it should have sold itself aggressivley when the elections were approaching.
3. the symapthy wave for achuthanandan

10/09/2006 3:23 AM  
Blogger Jiby said...

hi abhishek, followed to your blog from silverines. dont know how i missed your posts earlier. i read through your old posts and the your other blogs...something i dont do unless i really appreciate what the writer says. really loved all you have written.

about hartal has become so common that ordinary people feel thats the only way politicans know to react to an issue. hartals during the freedom struggle were a great innovation coz it helped the greater cause...crippling the british economic exploitation of india... nowadays we cripple ourselves in this lame exercise.

the election watch initiative was so nice...sad to see them struggling...i hope they manage to continue their good work.

10/19/2006 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Abhishek,

Have blogrolled you. I think there is an error in one your links.

10/23/2006 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Kerala Views said...

Kerala is losing something like Rs. 200 crores per hartal.

11/01/2007 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was studying in Kerala, I used to Enjoy haarthals and Bandhs . I observed the common man on the street enjoyed it as a holiday . I agree to u on the economic cost of Hartals . But You cant put all the blame on politicians .Deep with in our selves , Majority of malayalis want rest . They are not mad for money , say like Mummbai or Bangalore . They are relatively content and happy , in comparison with rest of India . Ok Agree to you that Malayalees are not super rich , But we have cloths , food and shelter . Is it what a human being need ?


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6/28/2011 12:16 AM  

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