State Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac says the LDF would win the election.
Ernakulam: Kerala’s Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, who is not contesting the 2021 Assembly, is confident that the CPM-led LDF would win the election. During an interview with The Sunday Guardian, the Communist leader listed out the works done by the CPM-led LDF government in Kerala in the last five years. Edited excerpts:
Q: You are not contesting this election. The LDF has fielded Saji Cheriyan. What is the chance of LDF coming to power?
A: Yes. The LDF is coming to power for three reasons. One, in Kerala, no front which won the local body elections has lost the elections. Two, the pre-poll surveys have shown that the LDF is forming the government in Kerala for the second time. And three, the government has received appreciation from all quarters for efficiently carrying out the distribution welfare scheme during the pandemic. Even the Opposition parties have appreciated the efforts of the government. Though everyone who appreciates the government does not vote for the LDF, but there is overall satisfaction among the general public.
Importantly, the LDF government fast-tracked the infrastructure and other developmental works in Kerala.
Q: E. Sreedharan has alleged that the government stalled several projects initiated by the previous government. What is your take?
A: This allegation is totally false and has no base whatsoever. On the basis of the kind of infrastructural projects carried out by the state government, in the next 2-3 years, the state will be one of the most developed states in India. All the roads are reconstructed using BMBC (bituminous macadam bituminous concrete) technology. All schools are being reconstructed, the rolling out of KFON (Kerala Fiber Optic Network) under which the state will have free internet connection, etc. The list goes on. The Left government has sanctioned funds for junction widening, construction of flyovers etc.
Q: There are talks that the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) should be shelved. What is your take?
A: The KIIFB is no different from the Development Financial Institution (DFI), which has been proposed by the Central government. Under the DFI, the Central government wants to leverage and lend Rs 3-4 lakh crore for infrastructure development. The KIIFB’s function is the same. Former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai is the chairman of Fund Trustee Advisory Committee, which ensures the proper use of resources. We have instituted a small and transparent committee which is being appreciated by rating agencies all over the world.
Q: Kannur district was known to be the hub of political violence in Kerala. What measures have you taken to curtail the violence?
A: Political violence in Kerala has drastically come down in the last five years. After forming the government in Kerala, the first step was to have a serious dialogue with RSS itself. We ensured that no violent activities take place in Kerala. By and large, the law and order situation is stable in the district.
Q: Due to the pandemic, revenue collections of the state have been adversely affected. You have asked for GST compensation from the Centre.
A: GST revenue has not been buoyant for two reasons. One, the Centre’s implementation of the GST has been totally haphazard. The IT software of the GST is not properly functioning. Two, the rates are not revenue-neutral. This will affect financial stability of the states. The compensation period will also expire in the next couple of years, there will be a serious implication on the states.
Q: As the CPM has denied tickets to 33 leaders, critics are alleging that Pinarayi Vijayan wants to run the party as a one-man show. What is your take on this?
A: (Laughs) This is absolutely baseless. I have been minister twice, and a four-time MLA. One cannot be a lifelong MLA. I think this is a good decision (of denying tickets to 33 sitting MLA). Only CPM can take such a decision.a