UDF on the Defensive as KPCC Chief Scores Self-Goal

Thiruvananthapuram: The United Democratic Front (UDF)’s attempt to wrest the political initiative has suffered a setback with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Mullappally Ramachandran scoring a political self-goal. What has pushed the UDF on to the defensive is a sexist remark made by Mullappally against Health Minister K K Shailaja. In his eagerness to score political brownie points, the KPCC chief called the Minister “Nipa Princess” and “Covid Rani”.

It was a totally uncalled for outburst which has pushed the UDF on to the backfoot. The derogatory and sexist remark is bad enough. What is even more shocking is the attempt of Mullappally and his supporters to defend the indefensible.

The KPCC chief’s defence: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has made more damaging remarks against political rivals in the past. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy have compounded the original offence by not taking a stand against the KPCC President’s unfortunate remarks.

Incidentally the Mahila Congress leaders who go hammer and tongs against the CPI (M) leaders who make anti-women remarks are maintaining a deafening silence. Obviously, what is sauce for the goose is certainly not sauce for the gander!

Needless to say, the political blunder will exact a heavy cost from the Congress and the UDF. The allies of the Congress like the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) have realised the danger. Hence the IUML leaders’ criticism of the KPCC Chief’s fulminations against the Health Minister. IUML general secretary K P A Majid is on record that Ramachandran should not have made such remarks which do not befit the stature of a KPCC president.

The immediate casualty of the sordid episode is the weakening of the political battle which the UDF has planned against the Pinarayi Government on what the Front calls the LDF Government’s cruelty to the expatriates. The UDF’s planned agitation from June 25 is aimed at cornering the Government on its insistence of a Covid negative certificate for all expatriates’ who are set to return to Kerala from June 25.

The Government has, however, refused to budge from its stand. It has taken the position that in the absence of a Covid negative certificate, the danger of infected expatriates passing on the virus to their co-passengers on flights is real. Any slackening of the vigil will undo all the good work done by the Government to contain the spread of the dreaded virus.

The Government’s stand received a big boost from the Kerala High Court which refused to pass an order against the insistence on a Covid negative certificate for the returnees. The Court directed the petitioners to approach the Central Government and the State Government for finding a solution to the sensitive issue.

Be that as it may, the Government and the Opposition are set to slip into the confrontationist mode from June 25. But the serious setback the Congress-led UDF has suffered thanks to the KPCC chief’s remarks against the Health Minister will, in all probability, blunt the edge of the UDF offensive against the Government and the Health Minister whose stellar role in the fight against Covid-19 has earned national as well as international acclaim.

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