Dean Kuriakose is one of the most vibrant Congress leaders of Kerala. Dean, who hails from Idukki district, despite his young age has shown tremendous potential through his reaction to various issues and crucial stands. Currently serving as the president of Indian Youth Congress, the youth wing of the national party, Mr. Kuriakose has always stood out in his political career by raising social issues and challenging the mighty, in his short, but interesting political career.
Mr. Kuriakose’s growth in the political arena was through student politics. He has served as the Mahatma Gandhi University Union Councillor, Kerala Students’ Union State Secretary and the Youth Congress State Secretary in the past. Speaking to The Kochi Post, Mr. Kuriakose shares his views on leadership change in the State, the LDF government’s 100 days of governance and the future of the party in the State.
The new Left Democratic Front government has completed its 100th day of governance in the State. How do you evaluate their performance?
These 100 days of governance clearly gives the indication to the public that they don’t need to expect anything good from this government. Nothing positive can come out of this government. In order to get power they gave promises in bulk, but they failed to implement these. Right to Information (RTI) is regarded as one of the key provisions that can give transparency to the government and governance. But here, the LDF government is hijacking the RTI rule. It thinks that people should be kept away from governance-related information. The government has taken decisions against the media. In the sports council, they have appointed T.P. Dasan as the Chairman. He is currently facing a vigilance enquiry. The fact is simple. They don’t believe in democracy at all. They are just following their State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s words of promoting political violence. Dalit harassment is also a concern when it comes to this government.
How do you evaluate Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan?
Nobody can join hands with this Chief Minister’s way of governance. He tries to run away from the media and does things on his own. He is trying to be another Narendra Modi. The latest example being a speech along the lines of ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Mr. Vijayan’s dictatorship is very evident in his style. Nobody is permitted to meet him in his office in the Secretariat also. The other day when an old woman tried to meet him at his office, the same was denied. The picture depicts the difference between the then Chief Minster and current one. The public should have an access to politicians.
Do you think the time has already passed for a leadership change in the Congress party?
The Congress is taking decisions by keeping the goodwill of the party in mind. Things will go accordingly to the instructions given by the party leadership. But the party definitely needs to be strengthened.
When we take the cases of V.M. Sudheeran, Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy or other senior Congress leaders, most of them have evolved into leaders through the student politics or Youth Congress activities. In the current scenario, do you think they are the ones who are literally obstacles in the way of the youth in the State?
The youth definitely need more opportunities. Larger groups of youth have to come into the party. My personal opinion in this regard is that anyway the party is in the process of being altered soon. All the party belts would be altered and then the organisational election would be conducted. When this happens, I feel the prominent young party members should be given proper opportunities. The election defeat also shows the organisational defeat of the party. In an averted climate, we failed to hold on in the legislative elections. If the organisation could be strengthened, victory can be achieved. The Muslim League’s success shows us this. The party is going to change the 14 District Congress Committee presidents. When such a thing is done, the youth really need to be considered more. When I say youth, it doesn’t mean the entire priority should be given to the youth. But those young members who are capable of leading the party should be considered.
The Congress high command has commented on the groupism in the party in Kerala and said it should be stopped. How do you think groupism is affecting the growth of the party in Kerala?
I don’t have the opinion that groupism is the only reason for the downfall of the party in the State. Because, at the time when groupism was at its peak, the party was victorious with more than 100 seats in 2001. So there is no basis to saying groupism is the only reason for the defeat. The party should be strengthened and it should be able to be involved in the public issues and be with the people of Kerala.
You have said that party has to work together. But the former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is staying away from everything it seems. So what would be the future role of Mr. Chandy?
We don’t think he is keeping a distance from the party. It is true that he has said that he is not taking the post of Opposition leader. But in the organisation system, he holds a key role.
Kerala Congress (M) leader K.M. has left the UDF (United Democratic Front). They have decided to sit as a separate block in the legislature and when it comes to local self-governing institutions, they want the alliance with the Congress. What is your say on this?
That is not a welcome move at all. When UDF was going through a tough phase he has detracted, only for his personal goals. It cannot be seen as a good thing. So, the Congress does not have to call them back to the Front or try for that. The party workers do not want that move to happen.
Even in this short period of the LDF government’s tenure, there occurred a lot of opportunities for the Opposition to take a stand against the government. But there is a belief that the Opposition was not able to make use of this opportunity to its maximum. What is your opinion?
A lot of unexpected incidents happened which really shouldn’t have happened from a government. It all started from the imprisonment of the Dalit sisters from Thalassery and has reached the Swashraya Medical College fee issues. Anti-public decisions are a major part of this government. We are not going behind on any of these issues. We are there to keep everything at the forefront. We will announce a Secretariat march on the Swashraya issue on Monday.
The next four years of this government’s tenure is also crucial for the Congress party. As the president of Indian Youth Congress, how are you planning to act against the mistakes of this government?
We would raise our voice against the flaws of the government. Indian Youth Congress would definitely maintain its public space and move ahead by fighting against political violence and sectarianism.
Main photograph by Indian Youth Congress Kerala via Flickr.