'The presence of Rahul Gandhi and his campaigning for the Congress will make a general difference, but whether it will make a saving difference, not sure.'
As things stand now, the Left Democratic Front with Pinarayi Vijayan as the chief minister is expected to create history and come back to power.
If it happens, voting back a government to power would occur in Kerala for the first time since 1977 when the Congress-led United Democratic Front was re-elected to power.
Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran Pinarayi Vijayan create history?
Paul Zacharia is a well-known novelist and political commentator. The first of a multi-segment interview with Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier:
What are your thoughts as Kerala gets ready for the assembly election?
I feel people have become more experienced, and they have started thinking more on what they want rather than what the political parties want.
One thing I am fairly certain is at least Malayalis have come to realise that elections are for what you want for society.
I feel the mindset of the voters has changed for the better. They now look at elections as a serious matter.
In Kerala, the two major political fronts are the LDF and the UDF. You had told me a decade ago that the Congress got suicidal when the polls come. Is it true even now?
The Congress in Kerala is all the time suicidal, and they get particularly suicidal when elections come because of the kind of conflicts and divisions within the party.
The party here is a conglomeration of many groups and private interests.
So, clash of groups and private interests make the party suicidal.
In fact, the clash is there at the leadership level itself.
The situation is not so terrible as they are not in power.
But it is a fact that it is not a united party.
Do you think people will see through this disunity?
People of Kerala know that it is not a united party, and it is a party that comes together when there is money, and when there is election around.
But the positive factor now is the presence of Rahul Gandhi. It appears to an outsider like me, that Rahul Gandhi seems to make a difference.
How do you think is he going to make a difference?
Malayalis generally have a soft corner for the Congress party, the family and this man.
Remember the Congress was re-elected soon after the Emergency!
It is a fact that Rahul has the goodwill of a very large number of Malayalis.
I think his presence and his campaigning for the Congress will make a general difference, but whether it will make a saving difference, I am not sure.
I remember you telling me in an interview that Rajiv Gandhi was a moron. How do you describe his son, Rahul Gandhi?
I feel he is intelligent, straight forward and not a push-over.
Yes, he cannot hold Narendra Modi in terms of eloquence or political management.
The party may like to have somebody more flamboyant, somebody who is a crowd-pulling orator and somebody who can bluff.
Do you think he is lacking in leadership skills?
It depends on what you mean by leadership skills.
If you mean, manipulation and behaving like Indira Gandhi, yes, he is lacking in that.
He is lacking in strategies to win elections and also in creating crowd hysteria.
But why blame him now? Those who criticise him should address their concerns to the party president who is Sonia Gandhi.
Do you feel it is time the Congress to emerge from this family?
There is absolutely no doubt about it. How do you come out of the family?
By holding internal elections from the Centre to the states, right up to the panchayat level.
I am 200 percent sure that a leader will be thrown up if elections are held within the party.
Narendra Modi was thrown up like that, of course with the control of the RSS.
The CPI-M throws up a new leader every now and then through local elections, again controlled by the top leadership.
One of the reasons the CPI-M manages to survive is that it holds internal party elections religiously.
Any party that doesn't let intra-party democracy function is in trouble.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com