By ET Bureau | 15 Jul, 2013,
 While politicians in Kerala remain mostly divided along ideological lines, when it comes to sex scandals they appear to be joined at the hip.



KOCHI: While politicians in Kerala remain mostly divided along ideological lines, when it comes to sex scandals they appear to be joined at the hip. Cutting across political creeds, leaders in the state have been linked to sexual misdemeanors, often to the acute embarrassment of their parties.

And as recent events have shown, things are only getting worse. From the solar panel scam — that is currently rocking the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government — to an MMS clip of an opposition leader in a compromising position doing the rounds, numerous leaders in God’s Own Country have been caught with their pants down this year.

Social commentators are blaming the inflow of Gulf money, increasing consumerism and declining morals for this trend. “Politicians are a part of the society. Their words and actions will reflect the changes in the society,” says Nirmala Padmanabhan, social scientist and professor at St Teresa’s college in Kochi.

This year, Kerala Congress (B) leader and minister of sports, cinema and forests, Ganesh Kumar, had to quit after his wife accused him of domestic violence and having an extramarital affair. But the opposition had its own scandal — footage of Angamaly MLA Jose Thettayil‘s alleged sexual episode with a woman left it red-faced .

In Kerala, sex and controversies seem like a carnival

It also brought some temporary relief to chief minister Chandy, who was bogged down and hounded by the opposition for his links to the solar panel scam — in which Saritha Nair and her partner Biju Radhakrishnan were arrested for duping the public after collecting money from them. The sub-plots of this sordid scandal are alleged to be full of sexual escapades.

“There is a lot of wealth in the society but no investment opportunities,” says Dr KN Harilal, professor at the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram. “It is therefore easy for certain people to con the public and get money out of them.” But the real danger, he pointed out, is when such individuals start controlling the political class.

Politicians and stories of their alleged sexual romps are not new to Kerala. Even in the past, several politicians, including PJ Kurien (Congress), PK Kunhalikutty (IUML), PJ Joseph (Kerala Congress), Rajmohan Unnithan (Congress) and Neelalohithadasan Nadar (JD-S ), were in the news for their alleged sexual trysts. But what is alarming is the increasing frequency of such scandals.

It was the Gulf boom of the 1970s and 80s that changed Kerala altogether. Money started flowing into the state, changing its values and outlook. Along with this, rising income from plantations and demand for natural resources like river sand created a new class of nouveau riche. The biggest casualty of this change was the agrarian economy and the value system associated with it.

“From a life of permanence created by rural and agrarian life we are in the fluidity of the city. Stable property was converted into fluid wealth,” says Father Paul Thelakkat, editor of Sathyadeepam—a religious publication—and spokesman of the Syro Malabar Church. So, it was only a matter of time before politicians were involved and such scandals broke out. “People expect their elected representatives to be role models. Therefore, they find it difficult to accept it when they are found to be fallible,” says St Teresa’s Padmanabhan.
But others like PT Kunjumohammed, writer, film-maker and TV show host, feel that too much is being made out of it. “The Malayalee’s attitude to life has undergone a sea change. The irony is that even while many are forward looking, the political class and the media project a conservative image.”


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