The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF Government is entering the fourth year of its term. While there is no denying that substantial progress has been made on many fronts, as detailed in the report released by the CM recently, mishandling of socially hyper-sensitive issues like the Sabarimala verdict and August floods, coupled with poor PR, resulted in an unprecedented drubbing at the Lok Sabha elections. And now, questioning the State’s credentials in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ is the unfortunate suicide of businessman Sajan Parayil, that too, in the CPM’s bastion of Kannur.
Nigeria-returned Sajan ran from pillar to post to secure occupancy certificate for the convention centre he had constructed at a cost of Rs. 16 crore. Citing minor technicalities, the Anthoor municipality ruled by the CPM refused the same (without which power supply cannot be applied for to start commercial operations), forcing the entrepreneur to take the extreme step. The fact that the municipality chairperson who is in the dock for dereliction of duty is none other than CPM Central Committee Member M V Govindan’s spouse, is making it even more unpalatable.
In February 2018, 65-year-old P Sugathan, who was abroad for over three decades, had returned to his hometown Punalur to start an automobile workshop. But following protests from CPI, his project did not take off and he ended his life.
Thirty years after the Mohanlal-starrer Varavelpu painted the poignant picture of how we treat foreign-returned entrepreneurs, nothing seems to have changed much on the ground, with hard-earned earnings invested in business projects waiting for the merciless sanctions of sadistic government officials and conniving elected representatives.
The LDF Government has gone to great lengths to amend the antediluvian rules and acts to make doing business in Kerala seamless. Loka Kerala Sabha is yet another innovative attempt to leverage the NRK (Non-Resident Keralite) community to transform Kerala. None of this will make any sense if public servants and political leadership do not walk the talk.
It is reassuring that the CM came down heavily on government servants saying “Civil service is for the service of the public and red-tape should be avoided.” The government has suspended four errant municipality officials and ordered an investigation. But what about the municipal chairperson? Whatever the final outcome of the investigation, the loss remains personal to that family and the redressal, if any, will be a case of too little, a tad too late.