Thiruvananthapuram: Following the murder of a former CPM leader and the widening rift within its ranks, the party, after a long time, would be seen on the back foot during the Kerala assembly session which started on Monday. Also, the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) with a thin majority of five seats, expects to increase their tally by one after the Neyattinkara by-election results come out on Friday.
In the 140-member assembly, the UDF has 72 seats while the Left has 67. "Does anyone talk of the UDF having a minuscule majority. We think we've done a reasonable job with our agenda of development and care as we completed a year in office recently," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had said.
The month-long assembly session also would see the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) face the heat over three murder cases, for which many of the party's activists have been rounded up. One of them is of recent murder of former party leader T.P. Chandrasekheran in which investigators are reportedly even closing in on the party's top brass.
It will more interesting is to see how Leader of Opposition in the assembly, V.S. Achuthanandan, who has slammed his party following the murder of Chandrasekheran, runs the affairs in the floor of the house. The UDF is expected to lose no opportunity to bring out the difference between Achuthanandan and the party. While Achuthanandan called Chandrasekheran a true communist, the CPM officially called him a renegade.
Another episode which saw the CPM take a beating was after the utterances of its Idukki district secretary M.M. Mani, who claimed that the party finishes off its political rivals and even went to the extent of naming four cases of political murders.
"Never before has the CPM been in such a tight spot. This will certainly be reflected in the floor of the house," said legislator Roshy Augustine from Idukki, who belongs to the Kerala Congress (M), a part of ruling coalition UDF. "Even though Mani has been replaced, the police have begun a re-investigation into these cases. The interesting spectacle will be how Achuthanandan performs because he has spoken against the deeds of his party," he said.
But senior CPM legislator Raju Abraham denied that his party was on the back foot. He said they would go hammer and tongs over the dismal performance of the UDF government. "If not for the media highlighting the Chandrashekeran murder case, things would have had no impact. Our party has with stood many similar onslaughts. Achuthanandan has always taken a position and till date, our party has not taken up that issue and hence there are no issues at all, except for the media," he said.
"Look back on the performance of the government and all you'll see are projects and programmes initiated when we were in power. Has our state ever faced such a crisis with regards to increasing prices? The health sector is also in a shambles," he added.