When the Indian parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the threat of NRC seemed imminent, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan was one of the first political leaders to speak against it.
A couple of days ago, Kerala became the first state to pass an Anti-CAA legislation in their state assembly.
And if you think these ‘anti-national’ activities is all Vijayan can do, then let’s take you a little back in time.
Under his leadership, Kerala was declared the best-governed state in India by the Public Affairs Centre for three consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018).
The state was also ranked first in the Sustainable Development Index (2018) developed by the NITI Aayog and the United Nations.
A survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies found that Kerala was the second least corrupt state in the country, after Himachal Pradesh.
Vijayan’s Kerala has also won the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan Award for the state with lowest maternal mortality.
Doesn’t sound so anti-national now, does he?
Even as the central government and opposition leaders continued to criticise the Supreme Court’s orders to let women enter the Sabrimala temple, Vijayan stood his ground and helped women do the needful.
Mind you, his government took the stand despite being so close to elections and the prospect of upsetting Hindu voters in the state.
Even the Nipah virus outbreak was dealt with utmost urgency and the virus was contained within weeks.
When massive floods hit Kerala in August of 2018, claiming nearly 500 lives and paralysing the state for weeks, Vijayan emerged as a strong and efficient leader, garnering global acclaim for the way he dealt with the biggest threat the state had ever faced.
Mind you, this was done, despite the PMO allegedly refusing to meet an all-party delegation to find a solution to the issue.
58-year-old Ahmed Kutty, who runs a small flour mill near Alappuzha. Thomas Verghese, a retired PSU employee from Thiruvalla, a region badly hit by the 2018 floods spoke to the Hindu Business Line and said:
He was our hero during the floods…The relief operations were impeccable and the compensation was delivered to us without hassle.
The man who had until then allegedly been called ‘Mussolini in a mundu’ by the Congress and criticised for his ‘authoritarian’ behaviour, had suddenly been given a messianic stature people, irrespective of political leanings.
Social media played a massive part in this, and the lore around Vijayan which had only been part of CPI(M) cadres finally became a part of popular culture.
During the emergency in 1975-77, he was taken by the police and brutally assaulted. Upon his release, he gave a speech in the state Assembly, holding the bloodstained shirt he wore when the police tortured him.
Before that in 1972, when communal violence targetting Muslims reached Thalasseri Vijayan and M.V. Raghavan had been given charge by CPI-M of protecting mosques allegedly targeted by the RSS.
Vijayan and his comrades travelled in the riot-hit regions with microphones and requested people to maintain harmony and not to fall into the communal propaganda.
They stood guard at mosques which the mobs had targeted for destruction, and one of them, U. K. Kunjiraman, lost his life in that defence.
Born on March 21, 1944, Vijayan grew up poor. His father was a toddy tapper belonging to the backward Thiyya caste. This has led to the right-wing hurling casteist abuse at the chief minister.
A casteist cartoon had appeared on the front page of the BJP’s mouthpiece, Janmabhumi criticising the ‘women’s wall’, a human chain formed on 1st of January 2019 to uphold gender equality and protest against gender discrimination. The cartoon had said:
It’s a reminder against giving undue importance to the one was supposed to climb coconut trees.
Even now the state has a major caste issue and Vijayan’s left government still has not developed an anti-caste agenda as the Dalit groups have. An alliance with these groups would go a long way in bringing upon a utopian state.
All that being said, he is still a man in power and must be criticised when constitutional lines are crossed by him. But as of now, his results speak for themselves.