Interview: Cyber attacks against candidates are deplorable says Kerala Minister K Radhakrishnan

CPI(M) is determined to reclaim the throne of Alathur Lok Sabha constituency and has pinned its hope on K Radhakrishnan.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Apr 23, 2024 | 8:56 PMUpdatedApr 23, 2024 | 8:56 PM

K Radhakrishnan during his campaigning in Alathur. (Facebook)

Comprised of several areas nestled in the districts of Thrissur and Palakkad, the Alathur Lok Sabha Constituency was once hailed as the impregnable fortress of CPI(M).

However, in a remarkable turn of events in 2019, the political symphony of this region was orchestrated by a new maestro – Ramya Haridas – who literally sang her way to victory.

One of the two reserved Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, Alathur encompasses seven legislative Assembly constituencies – Tarur, Chittur, Nenmara, Alathur, Chelakkara, Kunnamkulam and Vadakkanchery.

Now, as the electoral pendulum swings once again, CPI(M) is determined to reclaim the throne of Alathur and has pinned its hope on K Radhakrishnan, party stalwart and incumbent state minister who represents the Chelakkara Assembly Constituency.

He is handling the portfolios of Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Devaswoms and Parliamentary Affairs in the state Cabinet.

Between his campaigning in Alathur, South First had a conversation with K Radhakrishnan on 20 April.

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Excerpts from the interview

Q: How is LDF’s campaigning progressing in Alathur?

In the previous elections, the LDF had lost this seat. We are determined to wrest back it and everyone is working with that objective in mind.

This constituency’s speciality is that it is spread across Palakkad and Thrissur districts. We had completed three rounds of campaigning and had covered almost all parts.

During the campaigning, I felt that the voting trends would favour the Left. People understood the changing political landscape at the national level and the importance of the Left in addressing it.

Q: In the 2019 general elections, Alathur was one of the constituencies where the LDF suffered a huge defeat (sitting MP Ramya Haridas defeated LDF’s then-sitting MP PK Biju by more than 1.58 lakh votes). Are you confident to wrest back the seat this time?

It was due to some special circumstances that the UDF won in 2019. At that time, LDF got only one seat (Alappuzha).

However, the LDF won the 2020 local body elections and 2021 Assembly Elections. The people know the initiatives the LDF government has carried out for their welfare.

They also understand how others are trying to malign the government through fake campaigns. Thus, we are confident enough to register a clean sweep this time.

K Radhakrishnan at Alathur Assembly Constituency

Q: What issues are mainly raised by the LDF in the campaigning?

The BJP-led government at the Centre has neither increased the living standard of the people nor addressed their issues, we highlight this aspect.

In the past ten years, inequality has risen in the country. Wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of a few people.

There is no point in claiming that there is development when there is inequality and people are unable to meet their basic needs. The country is also ranked low on the happiness index.

We highlighted this in our campaign.

Q: Have you evaluated the performance of the Alathur Lok Sabha Constituency in the past five years?

I am a candidate here and I should not be the one to evaluate it. It’s the people who will have to evaluate the performance. And my understanding is that they had done that thoroughly.

Q: When it comes to Alathur, it’s the farmers who form the majority of the electorates. If elected, what initiatives are being planned for them?

Farmers are the major force that determines the progress of a nation. If the agriculture sector is in misery, the nation’s economy will slump.

The LDF government has made many meaningful interventions for the welfare of the farmer community. It will be explored whether we could bring agro-based industries/startups, units that could manufacture value-added products, small-scale industries, and others with the help of the Union government.

One of the major issues that a farmer faces is the timely procurement of the produce after harvest. Any delay in that will affect the farmer adversely. We will check how such issues can be addressed with the help of local bodies, MLAs, financial institutions, and others.

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Q: The general elections will also be an evaluation of the performance of the state government. As you are a state minister, are you worried?

No, I am not. During my campaigning, even children are saying that I will win.

When I asked them why, they told me that it was because of the Left government which improved the basic infrastructure facilities at their schools.

If the children understand the welfare measures taken by the state government, then the electorates are surely aware of the same.

Q: Do you think there is an organised effort to discredit the Left government?

Take the case of Kerala, when you look at its social, economic, and cultural spheres, the Left’s contributions are evident.

It’s the Left that improved the living conditions of the people and kickstarted the Renaissance in social, economic, and cultural spheres. Many understand this and some ignore this.

When the Left government is moving forward with its development initiatives, the BJP government at the Centre is trying to sabotage it.

For that, they get the support of the Congress also. But their efforts to discredit the Left got a fitting reply from the people in the 2021 Assembly polls when they elected the LDF for a second term.

Now these forces understand that they can’t trump the left ideologically. Thus, they are trying to pressure us financially.

If we want to continue the development and welfare programmes we need money. By not giving it they are trying to turn the people against us. We raised it politically and legally.

The Supreme Court might have sent a notice to the Union government because it found merit in our grievances.

K Radhakrishnan at Alathur Assembly Constituency

Q: One of the major issues that this election discusses is cyber attacks against candidates. How do you view this?

My take is that it is undemocratic as well as unethical to resort to fake campaigning to gain the upper hand in the elections.

No elections should be fought by engaging in character assassination of a candidate.

Cyber attacks against any candidate are deplorable.

Those who carry out these vicious acts should understand that in the elections, the war is not against a candidate, they are just a factor.

The war is between political ideologies.

Q: There are reports that there would be a three-cornered fight in some constituencies. What’s your take on that?

The BJP is trying whether it could emerge as a third front in the state. It is with this intention that the prime minister himself visited the state recurrently.

But such experiments will not pay off in Kerala. After the counting (of votes), the BJP might be in the third slot in almost all constituencies in the state.

The BJP had concentrated its efforts and resources in certain constituencies. But the fact is that they are not able to make inroads into the electorates.

Their true colour became evident to the people after they unveiled their manifesto. The electorates of the state will not fall into that trap.

Q: Do you think the Left is the alternative?

We are not claiming that the Left is a dominant force and can beat the BJP at the national level. What we are saying is that all secular forces will have to join hands with us to fight the BJP and its ideologies.

The Congress should understand that they couldn’t fight the BJP alone. If they think so it’s just an illusion. They must understand their precarious position and will have to change their strategy accordingly.

Q: The Alathur Lok Sabha constituency is part of the Thrissur district where one of the biggest scams in the cooperative sector, the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank scam, was reported. Will that affect the Left’s prospects?

There is an organised plot to portray the Left government in a bad light. Such efforts are indeed intended to conceal the large-scale corruption carried out by the BJP.

To divert the attention of the people from that, the BJP is trying to project the Left, especially the CPI(M) as the one who carries out corruption.

We are of the view that an investigation should be carried out and if someone has carried out corruption they should be brought in front of the law and punished accordingly.

We have never tried to protect the wrongdoers. The issue here is using these corruption charges to malign the Left against the backdrop of the elections.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)