Scandals, which include money laundering, gold smuggling and controversial cronyism embroil Kerala State government. The government is at the fag-end of its five-year tenure. While the Chief Minister seems to have lost control over his subordinates, the miserably performing Finance Minister and Higher Education Minister of the State leave a big blot behind the ruling party that had once a strong base in the deep pockets of the State.
An escape route from all the stains is a thought-out and moved about with a plan of adding to the power of State police, which often works as the ruling party’s volunteers. Indefensible, the government is afraid of growing trolls on its failure in social media, which has already started flooding beyond control. Some ill-headed advisors then convinced the government to pass an ordinance to give sharper teeth to the Police Act through the addition of Section 118-A. The ordinance would have intimidated primarily the trollers with punishment up to five years or penalty of Rs 10,000. That was the only substitute remedy to remain defensive when ruling party’s cyber gladiators have begun to fall from grace.
The entire world knows despotism is inherent in Communism. Every Communist-Marxist ruler in the world, most of them unelected usurpers, ruled their subjects in a thuggish way. Many of them had their miserable end after perpetrating miseries on their people.
They were notorious for sealing the mouths of their rebels and rivals and also for liquidating opponents. They used to threaten the Press and stripping off its freedom, often replacing it with their stooges in mainstream media. But, in a democracy where the judiciary is independently strong, for a hardcore communist with the gene of despotism, there are plenty of limitations. An action overlooking their limitations and their neglect of all ethics in a democratic system makes them the subject of public hate. When the fourth estate becomes powerful the impact is wider.
The most corrupt rulers usually do not like their real story to be written by the Press. They dislike public debate and ardently abhor social media. They are afraid of public opinion. So it is natural for them to find new ways to shut up the public opinion. This happened everywhere in the world, where hardcore Marxist rulers ruled the roost.
They never perceived the fourth estate to be so powerful and the social media to compliment the people’s freedom of expression, riding on the proliferation of information technology. As social media becomes hyperactive, the wrongdoers began to hate and cry for its ban. This is what happened in Kerala when the government wanted to introduce Section 118-A through an ordinance, even when they knew that the intention of the ordinance would be legally inadmissible. Yet, it embarked on a misadventure to make itself ridiculously laughable. The government and the ruling party have the wrong advisors.
In an inherently democratic society like that of India, denial of individual freedom either in action or in any civilised gesture is no less than living in a hell, which people abhor. Within two days of the ordinance being signed into becoming a temporary law, it was withdrawn under horizontal and vertical pressures from its ideological well-wishers and political rivals. This self aborted action could result only in further erosion of its already eroding vote banks.
In a democracy, Communist ideology had only limited takers. Yet it could build a massive base in a place like Kerala only because of the people-caring old generation leaderships, who were known for their simplicity and stringency in life that they had opted for. Today, most of their top leaders and their cronies are reportedly super-rich with not-easily quantifiable assets registered in Benami names within and outside the State.
Though to a limited extent in India’s political landscape, wherever they were elected, they couldn’t prove themselves capable of delivering what people expected from them. At the same time, of late, they proved themselves highly corrupt making themselves, their kiths and cronies super-rich. Son of the ruling party chief was first under the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for money laundering and later under the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Scandals after scandals have been embroiling the ruling Marxist coalition of Kerala since last few months. A major tide began in June 2020 after unearthing a huge quantity of gold air shipped as a diplomatic parcel of Kerala’s Dubai consulate. Thirty-kilogram gold landed at Thiruvananthapuram Airport was hauled out in wraps of diplomatic badge to escape the surveillance of the customs authorities. An adamant customs officer that time didn’t let the parcel go unsuspected.
The customs officer then dug the ghost land without giving himself into high-level pressure from top State bureaucrats and even ministers’ offices to release the baggage unchecked. Investigation showed its roots have been deeper, perhaps unfathomably deep with a chaotic international chain. The diplomatic immunity was misused both by insiders and outsiders. The scandal had links with transnational operators, who were habitable offenders hitherto uncaught by any investigator. But as the culprits were caught into the net of investigators, while the bigger sharks have been boasting of them being not yet in the net. The gold smuggling scandal has a direct link with an anti-India force which attracted the intervention of India’s top-notch investigator, the National Investigative Authority (NIA)
The gold smuggling opened a dirty Pandora’s box to stink the high heaven of Kerala. The kingpin, Swapana Suresh has a close multi-level relationship with the office of the Chief Minister of the State. Her relationships with the higher education minister and Principal Secretary of Chief Minister have wider ramifications. The Principal Secretary was arrested by ED and later customs authority.
The Dubai Consulate reportedly imported huge parcels at various times with diplomatic immunity, which once contained the Holy Quran and Arabian dates for free distribution. That was suspected to be a ploy for funnelling out gold through the diplomatic parcel. Where the suspicion arose was the distribution of the Holy Quran. It was distributed in a region, where it is printed in bulk and exported to Gulf countries. The Higher Education Minister, Dr Jaleel was the captain of the free distribution that had a quantity mismatch with the actual record of imported weight. To the question of protocol violation and mismatch in the reported quantity of the import, the Higher Education Minister claimed a shamelessly laughable ignorance.
High-level investigations by multiple agencies are going on now. The results would in all probabilities land the government deep in hot soup. The Central government has decided to take all the cats out of the dirty sacks, which may end the political career of some ministers in the current State cabinet.
The election is only five months away. The prospects of getting the current ruling party reelected look bleeker every passing day. Election defeat is no exception. But a defeat with the prospects of many of the top ministers, party men and special appointees landing in jail were rare. That exposes how miserably a land of literates has been ruled and how the cardinals of the working class have betrayed the masses. For them, free speech and freedom of expression are anathemas in politics.