London: It was history’s most twisted ironies. A communist leader being the guest of honour at the temple of Capitalism and all what it stands for – the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Today, the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayai Vijayan, got the distinct honour for being the first Chief Minister in India to ring the traditional bell at the LSE signaling the opening of trade for the day.
The Chief Minister was invited to the LSE because the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB)-issued Masala Bonds got listed at the stock exchange today for raising an amount equivalent of Rs. 2150 crore.
Interestingly, the CPI(M) activists seem to be euphoric about their leader opening the trade at LSE, the center of capitalism. Maybe they could not gauge the fact that it is the very anti-thesis of their communist philosophy, or maybe they kept aside their communist theories, for a while, to enjoy the sight of their leader being felicitated by white men in expensive suits.
However, the hard fact is that Kerala is poised to pay a huge amount as interest alone to pay back the bonds issued by KIIFB. With 9.732% interest rate, the Chief Minister has not only opened the day’s trade at LSE, but also opened a perilous road of financial burden for Kerala.
While there were other options to raise funds with low interest rates, the Kerala government went ahead with the Masala Bonds at a higher interest rate.
Some netizens have questioned the communist party for hailing the invitation of the Chief Minister to LSE as a great achievement of the government. They point out the fact that the Chief Minister was given the honour because he is borrowing money at a high interest rate through the listing of Masala Bonds at LSE.
They ask how this can be considered as an achievement when it is actually a big failure of the communist government.
The opposition has already revealed that Kerala has to return Rs. 1045 crores in interest apart from the principal amount, within five years. It could mean a huge strain on the financial health of the state in the coming years.
When the Chief Minister rang the bell today at LSE, it became the finest moment of irony for the communist party in Kerala. The party had always taken a violent stand against borrowing money from international institutions and was very critical of capitalism and speculative trading.
However, these same leaders had no qualms in standing at the very foundation of modern capitalism and smiling when the KIIFB-issued Masala Bonds got listed at a high interest rate.
In days to come it is expected that more details of the shady deals of KIIFB with CDPQ will emerge. If communist activists cannot understand the irony and implication of their leader opening the trade of LSE, maybe they will realize the corruption that lies behind the deal.