Itching for power

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Machiavellian Kumar’s attack came as a surprise for the government
Machiavellian Kumar’s attack came as a surprise for the government, Photo: VV Biju

Power has an unusual allure. Almost a year after resigning from the Congress-led government in Kerala on charges of domestic violence, actor-turned-politician KB Ganesh Kumar raised a storm against the ruling alliance in the state Assembly on 9 December.

Deprived of power and public attention since his marital discord became public in April last year, the veteran actor turned an attention-calling session into an evocative performance during the Zero Hour in the Assembly, as he raised charges of corruption against the government. Kumar is the only mla representing the fringe Congress (B) in the Assembly, led by his father R Balakrishna Pillai, and is part of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) alliance led by the Congress.

Kumar trained his guns at an alliance partner, as he accused the personal staff of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader and pwd minister VK Ebrahim of corruption. More than the allegations, it is the motive behind Kumar’s sudden outburst that startled UDF leaders.

Speaking on the floor of the Assembly about poor condition of the roads that lead to Sabarimala, which houses one of the biggest Hindu shrines in the country, Kumar accused Ebrahim Kunju of failing to rein in corruption in his department and went on to demand a high-level probe into the matter.

If the attack came as a surprise for the UDF, the Opposition was equally surprised, and quickly to grabbed the opportunity to support Kumar. Leader of Opposition VS Achuthanandan said he was ready to take up the cudgels if Kumar was willing to stand firm on his allegations.

The attack is being seen as a move to garner support for Kumar’s re-entry into the state Cabinet, even as the father-son duo are rumoured to be in parleys with the Opposition led by the cpm ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls.

With its only mla having to resign from his ministerial post, Kerala Congress (B) is understandably unhappy and calculating its moves before the next Assembly election. Pillai, a senior leader of the UDF, was not invited to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was in town the day Kumar tried to rock the UDF boat. Distancing himself from his son, Pillai said that what his son did was improper, but public demonstrations of filial fracas between the two are not new.

Kumar’s latest act on the Assembly floor cannot be seen as an off-the-cuff expression since he had dropped hints a few days earlier in Palakkad. While inaugurating the seventh state conference of the Kerala Elephant Owners’ Association, Kumar, who heads the association, had said that the recent raid and suspension of pwd secretary TO Sooraj on charges of amassing inappropriate assets was just the tip of the iceberg. “The big fish are still out of the net,” he had said. He had also said that he would reveal the names of other corrupt officials on the floor of the Assembly.

Kumar, however, says, “I had resigned on my own. No one had sacked me from the Cabinet and there is no wish to become a minister now.”

Kumar’s allegations cannot be read as a newfound commitment to keep the UDF clean, it is, in fact, a calculated political move. The ruling front is already smarting under the allegations of bribery against another senior ally, Kerala Congress (M) leader and Finance Minister KM Mani, in connection with granting licenses to bars in the state.

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