Neither economic nor social disparities should come in the way of individuals to pursue their dreams. Equal opportunities, freedom and the space for all to live with self-respect and in harmony should be our aim…writes V.D Satheesan.
It is the Opposition’s responsibility to be the voice of the people of Kerala.
It is also our primary duty to work for the welfare of the people and the development of the state.
We have a clear view on how our state should go forward in the coming years and it includes the need for sustainable development, equitable distribution of welfare measures and transparent and democratic public space where any citizens can voice their opinion.
We will strive to be, in theory and practice, pro-minorities, pro-women, pro-SC&ST communities, pro- LGBT and pro-environment.
The weaker sections need to be further assisted to establish their space in the mainstream.
Neither economic nor social disparities should come in the way of individuals pursuing their dreams. Equal opportunities, freedom and the space for all to live with self-respect and in harmony should be our aim.
Kerala has remarkable achievements in the social indices among the states of India. But we need to further our efforts to establish a socialistic, democratic society.
The first aim should be to wipe out poverty from our state.
The recurring, poverty-malnutrition triggered deaths in Attapady are shocking reminders that pockets of severe deprivation are still around in Kerala.
We need a totally inclusive, focused effort to wipe out poverty. Seamless distribution of food, medicines and other support mechanisms should be ensured.
Then comes the special rights of the tribal and coastal communities. Their land should be protected, their rights over natural resources should be ensured.
Somewhere along the way, Kerala’s development initiatives lost track of the coastal people and the Adivasis.
There have to be stronger enactments to protect these sections in our society. We also need special welfare missions for them.
Sustainable and climate-resilient development is the only way in front of Kerala.
Ever since the 2017 Ockhi cyclone, the State has been experiencing floods, landslides, cyclones etc.
Long rainy seasons have posed very serious questions about our agriculture calendar. Dam safety has become a major concern. Maintenance of our infrastructure facilities is another issue. So where do we go from here?
Carbon neutral development initiatives alone can tackle climate change in the long run. But for the short term, we need to look at issues which are of utmost importance. How will we rebuild the fast-eroding coastline? How can Kuttanad be saved?
The Opposition will not only try to keep these issues in the public eye but also get solutions from experts and local communities and channelise help.
We want to construct a Kerala which will be safe, equality-based and open-minded. Women, children, LGBT community and young people should feel safe and hopeful here. They all have to live, work and come up in life.
Our age-old prejudices have to go.
Respecting an individual’s freedom should be put in prominence. Attacks against women are increasing, horrifying crimes are happening all around. Social media spaces are becoming human rights violation zones.
Kerala’s opposition will work with civil society and enforcement agencies and individual initiatives to make the state a better place for women and children.
The LGBT community needs special protection, care and support systems. We believe in giving them legal, medical and social protection to come up in life and be in the mainstream.
A developed society is one that accepts plurality and freedom. Different voices, opposing stands will have to find space in our public arena.
The Left Government’s stand to brand anyone with a different view as a terrorist and to impose the draconian UAPA on individuals are most despicable.
This state cannot become Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China.
In an era in which religion, caste, creed, etc., are dominating the political space of the country, defending one another’s freedom, free speech and choices itself is a political activity.
Congress and the UDF are committed to this. We believe that the Legislature is one of the most important places where people’s issues should be discussed, serious debates should be carried out.
We are proud to say that issues from the government’s attempt to keep Covid death numbers under the carpet to IPCC Report on climate change, Kerala’s opposition brought in the most important issues to the floor of the Assembly.
We will act as a constructive opposition keeping in view Kerala’s welfare in focus.
We want to make Kerala Assembly a model for the rest of the country by engaging in serious, relevant and democratic discussions and debates.
To sum up, the Opposition in Kerala will always be committed to the welfare and betterment of our state and act with conviction and honesty.
(V.D. Satheesan is the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly and a five-time Congress MLA from the Paravur Assembly constituency in Ernakulam district. The views are personal)
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