Dr Sebastian Paul
Dr. (Adv.) Sebatian Paul is the most prominent journalist turned politician in Kerala. A former MP and a former MLA, Paul is now contesting to the Kerala Assembly from Thrikkakkara constituency, Kochi.
I do have a long political career. Even when I was in journalism I was involved in politics. While I was working in Indian Express, Kochi, in late 1970s, I contested to Kochi Corporation as a Janata Party candidate, of course with due permission from the management. Later on I started my legal practice and continued my political activities as Janata Party man and later on as a Janata Dal man.
Mine was always an anti-Congress political stand. During my days in Maharaja’s College and later on in Law College, Kochi, I was a student activist against Congress politics. We had even floated a movement called Progressive Front in the campus.
Perhaps, that is the reason my approach has not changed much in my journey from journalism to politics. In both the careers I have always been taking keen interest in matters concerning fundamental rights and human rights.
My first formal entry in electoral politics was in 1997 when I contestested Lok Sabha elections from Ernakulam in a by-election after the death of the then MP from the constituency. I won that election. But, when I contested again in 1998, luck was with my opponent. Immediately after that failure I contested the by-election to the state assembly from Ernakulam. I won that election and continued to be an MLA till 2001. In the elections of 2001, I lost to Prof. KV Thomas of Congress. When sitting MP George Eden of Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency expired in 2003, I was elected by defeating the Congress candidate. I was again elected to the Lower House of the Parliament in 2004, defeating the Congress candidate. In the 2011 Assembly polls, I lost to George Eden. Now, I am pitted against Congress’s PT Thomas in the Assembly elections. In all elections until 2011, I was an independent candidate supported by CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and always remained close to CPM.
I was a member of the Standing Committee for the Ministry of External Affairs, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Railways and Committee of Privileges and the Press Council of India. I have the rare record of contesting six elections within a span of seven years and winning four of them; all from the same constituency and as an independent candidate.
I am very pleased that I always balanced between my three professions. In that sense, I was never a full time politician. I did not abandon my legal practice, media critic programme for the channels, channel debates, newspaper columns and writing the books. I also conduct coaching classes for the candidates appearing for the examinations for the judicial appointments. I could successfully accomplish all these different assignments. So, I do not feel that life has changed after jumping into more active electoral and parliamentary politics. I still continue my book writing. Law, Ethics and the Media is my latest book. I cannot remember any specific instance. As a journalist, my mission was to create awareness, public opinion, etc. But, when I entered parliamentary politics, I could take pro-active role in developmental issues, simply because you are so close to the “power” through electoral politics. This sort of proximity with the “power” helped me a lot to expedite the developments, construction of bridges or roads, etc. In another words, I could interfere in my constituency’s affairs in an authentic manner, perhaps as a journalist I could have never able to do.
It is interesting to note that despite my ideological propinquity with the Left Front, I always remained independent candidate. First time in my political life I am technically seeking votes on the official symbol of CPM.
(Dr Sebastian Paul is a former MP and MLA from Kerala and now contesting Assembly Elections as a CPM candidate. As told to Organiser Correspondent T Satisan.)