Thursday, October 21, 2010

A retired bureaucrat enters the fray


P.C. Cyriac, after a distinguished career, is standing as an Independent in the Elamkulam division

By Shevlin Sebastian

For seven years, P.C. Cyriac, the retired Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu government, has been bringing out a weekly newspaper, ‘Kochi Vartha’, highlighting the civic problems in the city, especially in the Elamkulam area. The newspaper has a circulation of 10,000 copies.

“I noticed that despite writing so much, the public did not pay any attention,” he says. “You are taken seriously only if you hold a position.”

So Cyriac has decided to contest the Cochin Corporation elections for the first time. He is standing as an Independent candidate in the Elamkulam division. And he feels he has a good chance to emerge victorious. “In local body elections, belonging to the LDF or the UDF is not very important,” says Cyriac. “People weigh the merits and demerits of the individual candidates.”

In fact, in the Corporation, there is no concept of ruling and Opposition parties. Every councillor, irrespective of whether he is a party member or an Independent, is elected to some committee or the other, like Taxation, Health, Works, Education, etc. The administration is conducted through these committees.

In Kerala many educated people retire at the age of 55, even though they have many useful years ahead of them. “Instead of using their expertise in a forum like this, for the betterment of society, they resort to non-stop criticism,” says Cyriac. “It is a waste of time. I am hoping my entry will inspire a few such people to do something similar.”

Cyriac has been on the campaign trail for the past fortnight. And it has been a revelation for him. Apart from posh localities like Kumaranasan Nagar and Jawahar Nagar, there are places like Ikya Nagar and Kudumbi colony, where he went for the first time.

“When it is raining, these areas get waterlogged,” he says. “Garbage lies strewn about and the drains are blocked. It is an unhygienic situation. Honestly, it is an eye-opener. I never knew such places existed in Kerala.”

In such an environment, the voters are looking for somebody who can solve their problems. “Promises have been broken too many times in the past,” says Cyriac. The previous councillor was Mary George of the LDF. Cyriac’s opponents include A.V. Xavier of the UDF, Sojan Antony of the LDF, as well as Jerson Elamkulam of the BJP.

So far, Cyriac has been receiving positive responses from the voters, numbering 6000, when they hear about his credentials: a chairman of the Cochin Stock Exchange, a director of the Federal Bank, apart from an illustrious career in the senior levels of government administration.

So, at the age of 66, a tall, silver-haired man is trudging, in the heat and the rain, through the lanes and bylanes of Elamkulam, canvassing for votes, even though he can easily put up his feet and relax in his elegant river-facing bungalow.

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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