KSEB Vs Chairman: Who will have the last laugh?
Thiruvananthapuram, April 28 (IANS) The conflict between Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) chairman and top IAS official B. Ashok and CPI-M backed KSEB Association officers led by its president M.G. Suresh Kumar seems to have entered the last round.
The standoff between the two is now almost a month-old and despite the best efforts of the Association, Ashok continues to be in complete control.
It all began with the suspension of a lady engineer and had it not been for Ashok, the Association would have had things under their control, when he acted swiftly suspending Kumar and his deputy, for indiscipline.
Ashok stood firmly on his ground as he had the backing of the State Power Minister K.Krishnankutty, much to the displeasure of the Association, who for the first time, came under duress, as none of their arm twisting tactics worked.
Hitherto, whenever the Left ruled the state for long, the electricity portfolio was handled by CPI-M Ministers which included none other than present Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
(1996), S.Sarma (1998), A.K.Balan(2011), Kadkampally Surendran(2016) and M.M.Mani till 2021.
But after Vijayan took office for a second successive term last year, the portfolio was handed to Janata Dal(S) nominee Krishnankutty, who, besides being a seasoned politician, is known for his clean image.
Krishnankutty was disappointed to learn recently that the CPI-M backed union had allegedly tried to shunt him out by putting pressure, but failed.
With prestige of the Association under heavy pressure, they smelt victory when the three suspended officials were reinstated, but it was short lived as all of them were posted to far off places, away from the head office here, which was their den for all the union activities.
While the Association continued with a non-cooperation attitude, came yet another blow for them, when the Kerala High Court acting on two petitions, ruled that the Kerala Essential Services Maintenance Act (KESMA) can be invoked if need arises in KSEB and that was like the last nail being thrust on the beleaguered Association.
The order also stated that the KSEB can take action against officials for improper conduct.
Though happy with the turn of events, Krishnankutty tried to downplay things and expressed hope that very soon things will fall in place.
But Ashok, who is also the president of IAS Association in the state, is unwilling to relent. Feelers suggested that if Kumar and the two others who have been transferred be brought back to the head office, it could at least be a face saver for the powerful CPI-M backed Association, whose stock is presently at its lowest ebb.
However, a media critic on condition of anonymity said the silence of Vijayan on the matter is being questioned as everything is happening with his blessings.
"Vijayan is perhaps trying a new strategy to reign in the powerful Unions which is known for its destructive positions which in several sectors has brought a bad name to the state. He is probably playing the waiting game to see how far things will go. If he feels through this the Union can be reigned in and now with the Court also giving the green signal, then it could be a win-win situation for him, but if he feels otherwise, then Ashok would be given marching orders," said the critic.
With Vijayan being out of the country for treatment and slated to return only on May 10, all eyes are on Ashok as to how well he plays his cards till Vijayan return.