Goa seems to be kind of jinxed for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), judging by the two recent explosions in the party. Former Goa chief minister Churchill Alemao, the only NCP candidate to win in the recent assembly election, shocked his partymen when he offered his support to the BJP government formed by Manohar Parrikar.
The NCP was further embarrassed when a nascent Malayalam television channel broadcast what it claimed to be a conversation Kerala transport minister A.K. Saseendran made from Goa, where he had gone to campaign for the party. Saseendran was heard talking in a lewd manner and he resigned.
Saseendran’s long public career has been shadowed by a sleazy clip. The first-time minister had to quit within 10 months of assuming office.
M.M. Hassan’s entry into the Indira Bhavan as the acting president of the KPCC seems to be a good omen for the Congress and the entire opposition. Hassan was the Kerala general secretary of the Youth Congress when Saseendran was its president in the state. Hassan was spared the difficult task of targeting his former colleague. Saseendran was quick to react to the allegations against him.
Saseendran surprised everyone with the speed with which he quit. Saseendran was someone who travelled in a bus even when he was a minister. He realized he did not need a speed governor to delay his resignation. He called up the chief minister and offered his willingness to resign.
Two of the original 19 ministers of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) have gone in 10 months, even as the CPM state committee sought ways to better the government’s performance. The news hit the AKG Center even before the committee members took a lunch break. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to Saseendran after consultation with CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and other leaders.
His fate was sealed in that conversation. That is why Pinarayi came out through the main door to meet the waiting newsmen, instead of taking the elevator to the basement and getting into the car as he usually does.
Pinarayi’s choice of word gave away his intention. He said the charge was “serious”, the same word he used to describe the lapse from the part of E.P. Jayarajan, the industries minister who quit on charges of nepotism five months ago.
The CPM considers nepotism as akin to corruption. Jayarajan, a central committee member of the party, lost his position to corruption. NCP’s working committee member has walked away with a taint of sleaze.
What is happening to the LDF government? Pinarayi may be forced to explain the choice of his ministers. The CPM has directed the government to make the necessary amends to the ministers’ offices. The party may even extend the direction to the ministers themselves.
Why did Saseendran resign without any resistance? He may have reasons to believe that any attempt to justify his position may damage him further.
Saseendran’s detractors in the party had informed their leader Sharad Pawar of the developments as soon as the television channel broke the news in the morning. Saseendran’s tenure as minister was not uneventful. He had faced stiff opposition to his decisions even from within the party. He, however, found a supporting leader in the late national secretary Jimmy George.
George’s untimely demise was a blow to Saseendran and NCP state president Uzhavoor Vijayan. With Saseendran down, the faction led by Thomas Chandy has gained prominence within the party.
Chandy has got a new lease of life after his falling out with Pawar. The national leader was peeved at the businessman for leaking out details of a secret agreement to share ministerial berth with Saseendran after two and a half years. Chandy and group may step up their attack against Saseendran and may even ask for disciplinary action against him.
Saseendran was busy with problems related to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation ever since he became the minister. Even the gentle Pannian Raveendran lashed out against him in a meeting of the ruling front.
He used to be a leader trusted across parties in the LDF. He had always taken the initiative to steer the front on its course and to coordinate the activities in the Legislative Assembly. His ability to present his point was recognized by all other leaders.
The 71-year-old leader from Kannur is now faced with the worst crisis in his life. Can he save the front and the government by resigning as soon as he was in trouble? Let us wait and watch.