“I know Kerala voters, UDF will come back to power”

Neelu Vyas

As Kerala gears up for the May 16 Assembly polls, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is confident that the UDF will come back to power defying the conventional alternating pattern of UDF/LDF governments.

Speaking exclusively to Rajya Sabha TV, he dismissed allegations of corruption in connection with the bar bribery scam and the solar scam.

Chandy claims to be a victim of conspiracy hatched by the opposition. He said he was confident that and all charges against him wil be rendered baseless after the court inquiry is over.

Chandy played down reports of infighting and factionalism within the state Congress. He also dismissed reports of alternate power structures within the his party that claim that Home minister Chennithala and party state president VM Sudheeran were eyeing at the CM’s post.

Chandy defended the liqour ban despite tourism in the state being hit by the ban. He said his government was committed to the social wellbeing of the society at large and he will find other sources of revenue to run the state.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Don’t you think your image has been dented by allegations of corruption in connection with bar bribery and solar scam?

Allegations and truth are two different things. The matter is in court and I am sure I will come out clean. At the moment, my focus is to bring Congress back to power. People have seen development under my regime and they are not bothered about controversies. People will vote for the Congress, for growth and stability.

Is true that Kerala Congress is the most mismanaged among all states? There have been ample allegations of infighting and factionalism.

No, this is completely false. We are one and we are united. In fact we
Kerala Congress is a role model. We try to sort out differences in a democratic manner.

Is it not true that you have not been able to keep your allies intact? A lot of candidates have crossed over to the LDF?

Congress’ main aim is to win elections. All constituents of the alliance are together. There were some issues initially but all that has been sorted out.

Oomen-Chandy,-Kerala

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy speaking to RSTV’s Neelu Vyas during a campaign trail for the programme To The Point.

BJP claims it will open an account in the state for the first time. They also claim they’ll be kingmakers. What do you have to say?

This is laughable. No matter what claims they make, I know the voters of Kerala for the last 40 years. This state wants unity not divisive parties to run the state.

There are reports that the Ezhava community which was an all-time favourite of the Congress is now being wooed by the BJP. Does that worry you?

The Ezhavas are backing the Congress. BJP can continue to build castles in the air.

Kerala is a hot tourist destination and your liquor ban policy has impacted tourism in a big way. Do you regret your policy decision?

I am more than willing to accept losses from a ban on alcohol. Illicit liquor is a big problem here. The ban is staggered for over 10 years. The ban may affect tourism but it the problem has to be contained.

How potent is the hold of the liqour lobby on the politcal class? How do you plan to breach it?

The liquor lobby is maligning the government is all that I can say at the moment.

To talk about the Kollam fire mishap that killed more than a hundred people, is there reluctance on the part of the political leadership to ban competitive pyrotechnics display?

There is no such reluctance but the matter is under inquiry and therefore I don’t want to comment on anything at the moment. Whatever decision is taken, will be in consensus with all the parties.

There are reports that if Congress comes back to power, you might not become the Chief Minister as the Congress high command has also made Home Minister Chennithala and state Congress president VM Sudheeran the face of the campaign?

MLAs and the high command will choose the Chief Minister who faces no intra -party challenge. I am confident that Congress will form the government. People have seen my policy of development and care. It’s a fact that people not bothered about corruption allegations.