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Embattled egos in Kerala

Vinson Kurian | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 17, 2017

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The bureaucracy is testing Pinarayi Vijayan

First-time chief minister and experienced campaigner Pinarayi Vijayan is determined to impress the CPI(M) cadres in Kerala and the voting public at large as a thinker and doer. Comparisons have been made between him and PM Modi in terms of their single-minded focus to ‘cleanse’ the system and bring in better governance. But there the similarities end. While Modi can hope to push his agenda with a majority vote that is more than enough for the BJP to form a government at the Centre, Vijayan has to look to the largest and long-serving communist coalition partner, the CPI, to make the numbers tick in the Assembly.

His determined, organised and meticulous way of doing business has run into stiff resistance not just from arch rival Congress but also the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front coalition. Both have accused him of being authoritarian by turns. However, the CM couldn’t care less despite being accountable to an increasingly vocal CPI. Not for nothing is he considered as someone always in control. He has been praised for his can-do skills as a minister and as the longest-serving chief of the State unit of the CPI(M).

But these very traits are now being challenged in a recent brush-off with a disinclined bureaucracy. Apologists say he has had to deal with much bigger egos here than in the CPI. Consider the names of KM Abraham and Tom Jose, the senior-most IAS officers and additional chief secretaries. Abraham is known for his anti-corruption crusade as an investigating SEBI member against the powerful Sahara Parivar chief Subrata Roy. He and Jose invited vigilance scrutiny; the director of vigilance, Jacob Thomas, enjoys Pinarayi’s confidence.

The miffed IAS Association is determined to go slow on signing files. This is something Vijayan needs to settle fast. He has already suffered some collateral damage from a ‘vigilance misadventure’ involving close colleague, powerful minister and effective second-in-command EP Jayarajan, who had to resign on charges of nepotism. Observers wonder if he would not be prompted to engineer some form of revolt against Vijayan.

Deputy Editor

Published on January 17, 2017
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