'Liberalisation, privatisation; all are wrong policies'
E.K Nayanar, the chief minister of Kerala, has always been a very
controversial politician, whether in power or out of power. But
he is unruffled by all the controversies that he creates. Once
he created a furore in Kerala by saying rape in the US is as common
as drinking a cup of tea. In his latest term as CM, he has just issued
a startling statement -- when somebody drew his attention
to the mass rape of a young girl at Suryanelli, the chief minister
asked why there was such a fuss being made since rape happens
all the time.
Though he has been attacked by all, including
the Opposition and women's organisations, Nayanar marches on,
He was in Madras to inaugurate the meeting of an All India
Malayalees meet. I had to do a lot of chasing to pin
him down for an interview since everybody from Appachan (the maker of India's first 3-D film, My
Dear Chotta Chettan,)who took him to Kishkinda, his new amusement
park to various associations in Madras were after him.
in the morning soon after he landed was cancelled when somebody
'hijacked' him. I managed to get an appointment at 8.30 pm, but
my bad luck continued. The reception at the Park Sheraton hotel told me
he had not arrived when he was very much there in his room,
waiting for me. So I had to barge into the dinner party hosted for him by the
satellite channel, Asianet.
There he was enjoying all the attention and fun. Though more than
a year has passed, he has not forgotten the last interview I had
with him. And he has not yet pardoned me for having once asked
him about the huge idol of Lord Krishna which stood in front of
his house (a Communist's house) and writing about it!
When the interview finally begin, it was well past ten at night.
And he almost dozed off while answering questions.
Nayanar was not his usual self. After about fifteen minutes or so,
he stopped short and said, ''Enough, I am tired.
I want to sleep.'' I was disappointed. But there was no way I could
make him talk for some more time.
So, here is E K Nayanar, chief minister of Kerala on Malayalees,
Communism, liberalisation, power shortages and the success
story of West Bengal...
In conversation with Shobha Warrier
You have come here to inauguarate the meeting of All India
Malayalees Association. Do you see any difference in the Malayalees
who stay in Kerala and the Malayalees who stay outside Kerala?
Yes, there is some difference. There has to be, isn't it so?
The Malayalees of Kerala stay there, work there and are aware
of the day to day affairs of the state. But you cannot expect
those who stay outside Kerala to have knowledge of what is happening
within the state. It is also not possible. This difference is
in their attitude and approach.
What kind of difference?
In the area of work itself. Here in Madras, Bombay, Calcutta,
the Malayalees have regular work and they have some sort
of security in their lives. That is not the case in Kerala where
around 50,000 people are unemployed. Their condition is pathetic,
there is no security in their lives and they dream about going
out of Kerala in search of some work. You can see this difference
in their attitude also.
It is said that people of Kerala go out and work very hard.
But why is it that we have such high rate of unemployment there,
that too in a state that is one hundred per cent literate?
Employment opportunities come only if we have industrial and
agricultural development. Take the case of Calcutta, Bombay or
Madras. Here you have more job opportunities because you have
lots of industries here. Not agriculture. But Kerala is very backward
as far as industrial development is concerned. Every year the
central government is cutting short whatever ... that is due to
us. In 1975, the Planning Commission gave us 3% rights, in 1991
it was reduced to one and a half per cent.
The Centre has been
neglecting Kerala throughout. Because of that, we cannot have
industrial development. If you want industrial development, you
need electricity. But we do not have electricity at all. If you
take the case of the last 10-12 years, the government (at that
time) had not done anything to improve the power situation there.
But your Left Front was in power too during the period.
In fact, the Left Front government had taken some efforts, but
the government that came later did not try to continue the process.
Who suffers now? The state and the people who stay there. Several
industries have closed down as there is no power in the state.
The previous government did not even try to help them re-start
functioning. After we came to power, we reopened at least one.
Had the Left Front been in power continuously, we might have had
more industries there and at least quite a few more might have
The last time when I met you, that was when you were in the Opposition,
you told me that the Kayamkula thermal power project was sanctioned
in your time but the successor government did not pursue it. Have
you done anything in that direction now?
The Centre has accepted the project now. We only need government
clearance. Everything is ready except clearance. Once it is cleared,
we are ready to go ahead.
Many environmentalists are protesting against many of your
hydro and thermal projects. What do you plan to do?
We do not agree with them at all. The Pooyamkutty project has been
shelved because environmentalists interfered. When I met the prime
minister, I requested him not to let anyone block this project.
I told him that the environmentalists are blocking all our power
projects and so what I expect is a political decision. It was
Indira Gandhi who promised me about the possibility of having
the Pooyamkutty project.
Kerala is an industrially backward state. What according to
you are the reasons why industrialists are avoiding Kerala?
Neglect of the Centre.
What about private industries? It appears they are also
neglecting the state.
Mainly because of the power shortage. If you ready to give
power at a lower rate, all would come rushing. See what is happening