Young Turk on the Rise
In an interview with Hardnews young parliamentarian PK Biju talks about the trials and tribulations of politics
For as long as he can remember Parayamparanbil Kuttappan Biju has been involved in some form of politics or the other. “In 1986, when I was in Class VI, I was involved in student politics in Kerala.” He has seen it all, from student politics to contesting elections at the age of 36 and winning the seat from the predominantly agrarian constituency of Alathur in Kerala.
Talking to Hardnews at his office-cum-home on South Avenue, he veers easily from the atrocities against Dalits in Una to the role Parliament should play in uplifting the poor. Biju is stockily built and sports a moustache, and often breaks into a smile. He speaks slowly, pausing while translating words and sentences from his native Malayalam into English; occasionally fumbling when he can’t find adequate substitutes.
Born into a family of agricultural workers and exposed to the poverty that this sector experiences, he was drawn to Left ideology. His constituency, Alathur, from where he is a second-time Member of Parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is a predominantly agrarian region that grows paddy. “It is comparatively backward when compared to the other regions of the state,” he admits. As a college student, Biju first became the state president of the Kerala Students Federation and then went on to become the national president of the Students Federation of India (SFI). “The role of the Left in politics in Kerala is undeniable, full-time workers of other parties are in some way sympathetic to the cause.”
He was first elected to Parliament in 2009. Though a politician, Biju is completing a PhD in polymer chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam. He is a staunch believer in the transformative role of education in society, “It is the only way that the downtrodden, the poor and other backward communities can be emancipated from their circumstances.” In his constituency, he plans to invest heavily in education, potable water and health services. “I have used my MPLAD fund to help modernise schools in my constituency by introducing IT facilities in schools.” A good education system, he feels, can only come into existence if the government schools are strengthened as they are the only ones that can provide education for all. “The Left government even under EMS Namboodiripad in 1957 had a comprehensive policy towards education,” he points out.
However, it is Biju’s participation in Parliament that is most impressive. He has asked more questions and engaged in more debates than most other elected members. The national average of the number of debates each parliamentarian participates in is 41, the MP from Alathur has participated in 191. He has raised 333 questions in Parliament sessions in the past two years, which again outstrips both the national average and the state average. The most recent debate he participated in was on atrocities against Dalits. He visited Una with Brinda Karat and other MPs. “What we saw there was not what the state media has shown. The living conditions are far worse for the Dalits. For example, there is no gas or LPG connection in the Dalits’ homes. That exposes the fallacy of the Gujarat Model.”
According to him, “There is little difference between the Congress government of 2009 and the Modi government of 2014.” Both don’t fulfil the core function of Parliament – to help the poorer sections of society. “If you look at the budgetary allocations you will notice that the amount allocated for the poorer sections has been slashed, while concessions are given to corporates.”