Even though a lot has been written about the way Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who single handedly led the ruling Left to a stunning historical win in the April 6 assembly elections, all eyes are on him, who by now through his mannerism and the way he conducts himself has turned into the mould of a ‘headmaster’ of an yesteryear school, where his one word and one look can send shivers down the spine of many.
Such is the stamp of authority, Vijayan has now, as he gets ready to start his second innings on Thursday and given his now hugely increased stature, where everything is decided by himself, it remains to be seen how smooth would his second innings be.
In the CPI-M, Vijayan through his iron grip by being the party secretary from 1997 to 2015 turned the clincher when he was able to get everything he wanted and if one looks into yesteryears, always the Chief Minister of the CPI-M stature is a shade below than the party secretary.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said it was Vijayan who changed that and that happened because each and everyone in his party is known well to him and through the long years of being the secretary, it’s his handpicked people who are now there at all the various levels of committees.
“Just look when he was the party secretary during V.S. Achuthanandan’s tenure as Chief Minister (2006-11), there was always a clash and Vijayan always won. And now look into the past five years of Vijayan’s tenure as Chief Minister. Here again, he was the final word and even the State Secretary took orders from him. Such is his grip over the party and the government. I doubt, if any Chief Minister in our state ever was in such a sound position,” said the critic.
Vijayan showed his stamp of authority when he handpicked his state cabinet of 20 Ministers and there was not a whimper of protest from any quarters in his party or in the Left, when he decided to drop hugely popular Health Minister K.K. Shailaja.
“Just look at the Ministers from his party this time and in his first innings. In his first tenure, there were seasoned veterans with previous experience in the cabinet like Thomas Isaac, G. Sudhakaran and A.K. Balan and not to mention of E.P. Jayarajan, a towering personality in the party. Look at his team now, barring the soft spoken K. Radhakrishnan, all the remaining 10 from his party are first time Ministers and they will all be wary of the ‘headmaster’ and will dare not to rub Vijayan the wrong way, when they go about in their respective portfolio,” added the critic.
Incidentally if one looks into his cabinet, he has included his ‘new’ son-in-law P.A. Mohammed Riyaz, a first time legislator, when there are among the party, legislators with more experience.
Riyaz told the media that during the election campaign there were lot of personal attacks on this front.
“I have won the seat with a huge margin and it clearly shows that all negative campaign issues were dismissed by the electorate. It’s the party which decides what each member should do and I have got this,” said Riyaz.
The biggest teething problem facing Vijayan is going to be the way how he tackles the Covid surge and the test positivity rate is hovering around 25 per cent mark for a while now and the total number of active cases has crossed 3 lakhs, as the state is under a lockdown.
Another issue which he will have to surmount is that the per capita debt of every Keralaite stands at Rs 1,05,000 up from Rs 46,075 in 2016.
The public debt when Vijayan took over in 2016 was Rs 1.50 lakh crore and today it has touched Rs 3.20 lakh crore.
However with a few cases which occurred in the last year of his previous term which includes the gold and dollar smuggling are also dangling above his head and it remains to be seen how and what the Centre will do and what happened in West Bengal is also there for all to see.
So all in all, ‘headmaster’ Vijayan has a tough task on hand and one thing is certain that there will be no honeymoon period for him and his confidence is that he has steered the wheel for the past five years, with no issues either from the Congress led Opposition or from his party.