Saturday, April 27, 2013

Will Aranmula Alter the Political Map of Kerala for the Better

It was historic, an unusual political formation at Pathanamthitta. Perhaps one that may see Kerala polity changed for the good. One after the other the ‘think tanks’ of Kerala politics said that they want a Kerala that honors its survival systems. At the Royal Hall at Pathanamthitta perhaps history was being made, silently. Used to the old paradigm, old rhetoric, many of them watching were unable to take it in, including media. But the galaxy of political leaders from a broad political spectrum, some of them arch political enemies for some time, that converged at Aranmula wanted the Aranmula ethos to lead the Kerala of tomorrow. Where people counter injustice. That the state has a future of environmental sanity, justice, and more important, rule of law. And if things go by what the leaders said, Kerala shall have a positive future tomorrow. And as speaker after speaker said Aranmula is a symbol, of entire Kerala, its course shall decide future Kerala, good or bad.       
It was the meeting of the Action Council called by poet activist Sugathakumari, to protest against the proposed insane idea of an international airport at Aranmula.

The thousands of people swelling at the hall had the pend up anguish, the airport plan is a case where the laws of the land, ethics and values have all been violated with impunity.And the participants leading were the core leaders of all political parties. It was a spectrum from the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPIM) to the Bharateeya Janata Party (BJP), and it had only one agenda, save Kerala ecosystem. And who else is qualified to call such a meeting, save Sugathakumari the Mother figure of Malayalam. There were state leaders of CPIM- Leninist to the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS). The CPIM, CPI, RSP, Janata Dal, and an array of political parties including the healthier leaders of the ruling Congress party, social and environmental organizations, that came to attend the protest against the threat to Aranmula, dear to all Malayalis. And majority of them were crucial decision makers in the respective parties.

Mother Nature seemed pleased, it was raining cats and dogs once the people were inside the hall, and as
believed it is a good omen in the Malayali belief. And Sugathakumari herself said that in her inaugural address, so did O Rajagopal, saintly leader of the BJP. As it rained outside and the earth songs of poet ONV Kurup filled the hall people flooding the hall waited in surprised anticipation. The meeting started with a message from V S Achuthanandan, always a part of the agitation against the airport and who was unable to come this time, who wanted the insane airport plan dropped at the earliest and the nefarious forces punished. Doyen of Kerala politics and the senior most among those present, perhaps also the most respected,  O Rajagopal said that the airport plan at the wetlands of Aranmula is an antithesis of the Malayali culture and beliefs. It is the alien, in whatever form, incursions that have distorted the nature loving culture and beliefs of native Kerala, leading to all the turmoil. Rajagopal wanted nothing short of restoring the wetlands, and the river illegally filled, for the airport.

Thomas Issac, senior leader of the CPIM, said that he was not against development of infrastructure but wanted it in tune with the people’s need, in tune with nature’s harmony. But these are all violated in the case of Aranmula, where vested interests and other unseen forces have high jacked the elected government itself. The corporate agenda is being bull dozed over the people. It was ridiculous that the members only area of the Kerala Assembly saw the operators of the private airport company creeping in and passing on notes to the ministers answering member’s questions, said M A Baby, former minister and one of the ideologues of the Party. It was a CPIM, MLA, Raju Antony, who raised the issue before the Hon. Speaker who could only tell that the matter shall be enquired in to. This is trashing democratic governance itself, as he said. And it was bizarre that this was one Project that an Assembly Committee, nine member CP Ahmed Committee, had unanimously recommended as illegal and unviable and hence to be dropped. More than six major laws are violated and the very government has consented to be a party to the crime, instead of enforcer of law.

When the Oommen Chandy government keeps reiterating that the early permissions for the airport were given by the former LDF government N K Premachandran, former minister and leader of the RSP, wanted things clarified and said we are five ministers in that ministry present here. The cabinet decision was one asking the company to seek its own lands within the laws of the land. But when they captured private lands with fraudulent records, when they encroached public lands and even filled a river the Collector of the district booked the offenders. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala, has summarily transferred the Collector the day the High Court asked the government to follow statutes, said Thomas Issac.   That the Union Minister of Defense A K Antony, whose ministry denied permission to the private airport for strategic reasons later had to swallow his own words point to the extra constitutional interference in the state apparatus and that will see anarchy tomorrow as they said.

The basics of a law abiding civilization have been violated as never before in history as speaker after speaker
narrated. No law permits killing of a river, there is open arrogance in violation. They showed apprehensions that the days ahead shall see anarchy and mayhem if people lose their belief in abiding the laws and Oommen Chandy and his people shall pay a very heavy price, the state apparatus shall fail. Baby felt surprised that the august office of the President of the Indian Union was penetrated by a nefarious private company, who addressing the joint houses of the Indian Parliament, had to highlight this obscure airport. It makes one fear about the sovereignty of this country under this government, he said. Mullakkara Ratnakaran, a core leader of the agitation at Aranmula said that his Party has all along stood by the movement against the airport and shall be in the fore front in future too. Aranmula shall decide tomorrow’s Kerala politics, he added. We cannot fail in Aranmula, if that happens it will be a failure for every Malayali, he added. 

Pannyan Ravindran, leader of the CPI also expressed similar sentiments as Ratnakaran and pledged to stand by in any eventuality. P C  Unnichekkan, Chief of the CPI – Marxist Leninist, took a dig at the current political scene and said, quoting the famous Malayalam poet Kunjunnimash, Thalastanathinte Thala Sthanathalla. That is the head of state and country are not where it ought to be. It was a literal metaphor and the Party was one which always spear headed the fight at Aranmula. Mathew T Thomas, leader of the Janatha Dal pointed to the unseen links of the company to the corridors of power in Delhi and the success of the vested interests in circumventing the laws of the land. Philippose Thomas, of the Congress, who went in to the details of the airport company acquiring lands said that the way land was captured at Aranmula violated all sense of justice, fraudulent documents were used to capture lands of the disadvantaged. He said that the claims that the airport company is making are all false. They don’t own so much lands, as claimed, whatever filled is taken back by the upright government officials, the government’s being manipulated to declare the area as Industrial will not help as a reversal shall need several statutes being amended what cannot be done in a state like Kerala.

As speaker after speaker aired alarm at the state, and the country, dishonoring laws and conventions  P
Gopalan Kutty Master, Chief of the RSS in the state, soft spoken and to the point said that this fight is for Dharma and it is Dharma that wins ultimately. The enemies may be powerful, they may win in small battles, but the ultimate victory shall be for Dharma. It is a human rights issue, survival issue at Aranmula and we shall stand by all those who fight for it, and pay any price till it is won, said Gopalan Kutty master. The struggle at Aranmula will not remain confined to Aranmula, Pathanamthitta, or even Kerala as he said, it is a national issue and the organization is geared up for the logical conclusion of the matter. Maleth Sarala Devi, a Congress leader and native of Aranmula said that she has to fetch drinking water from a kilometer away despite living on the banks of the river Pampa. Do we dishonor nature after learning lessons, she asked, she said that the prayers of those affected shall change the scene. Aranmula is sacred territory she said and thanked the fragile old mother Sugathakumari  for her leadership and direction. People of Aranmula are all with you, she told Sugathakumari.

Kummanam Rajasekharan, leader of the Paithruka Grama Karma Samithy, reiterated that the struggle against the airport at Aranmula is a Dharma Yudham, and the deity at Aranmula temple is Parthasarathy, of Mahabharatha war, who lead that in the epics. He reiterated that the Samithy will abide under people’s movement initiated by Sugathakumari and is fully equipped to face any misadventure of the government or the dubious forces that control it at present. There is no history where the Dharma Yudhas of people have failed, he added.  The Meeting was attended by a galaxy of leaders, hitherto not seen in Kerala, and this included new youth movements like Am Admi Party. The Meeting pledged that the movement will spread all over till the demands are met. Some of the major demands are, i, Withdraw the sanction accorded to the airport at Aranmula, ii, withdraw the Industrial Area declaration, iii, Restore the river and wetlands filled at Aranmula, iii, distribute the lands under dispute to landless poor, iv, give exemplary punishment to all those who violated the statutes of the land how so ever big they are, v, give state support to revive the wetlands and watersheds of the Pampa river. The Meeting decided to have unit level organizations all across and called on saner people wherever they are to join in.      


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