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HC dismisses Kerala minister’s petition plea

Kochi, Nov 14 (IANS)
Published on 14 Nov. 2017 11:43 PM IST
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In a setback to the Pinarayi Vijayan government, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition by state Transport Minister Thomas Chandy for quashing the Alappuzha district collector’s report which alleged large-scale land grab by him to build a plush resort.
The division bench of the court of Justice P.N. Ravindran and Justice Devan Ramachandran came down heavily on Chandy and observed that it was very strange what a state Minister has filed a petition against the state government “which questions the failure of the collective responsibility of the cabinet”.
Through the judgment, Chandy has lost all hope of continuing as a Minister.
In the state capital, hectic political parleys began late on Tuesday evening in the aftermath of the court decision. Vijayan arrived at the state party headquarters and was closetted with CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and later with his cabinet colleagues on what needs to be done with the now-tainted cabinet colleague Chandy.
Chief Minister Vijayan told the media that the decision of Chandy’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is awaited. “We will look into the complete judgement and the right decision would be taken at the appropriate time,” he said.
Vijayan had come under fire from several quarters for protecting Chandy, much against the wishes of the other allies of the Left Front government.
Ever since the allegation of land grab surfaced three months back, the Congress-led opposition, the BJP and even the second biggest ally of the Vijayan government - the Communist Party of India - had been demanding the resignation of Chandy.
Vijayan had very strongly defended Chandy on the floor of the Assembly. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told reporters in Palakkad on Tuesday that it’s surprising that while Vijayan was quick to get the resignation of his close aide E.P. Jayarajan and A.K. Saseendran, in Chandy’s case that did not happen.
“This clearly shows that the ‘money power’ of Chandy holds sway and Vijayan has a soft corner for him,” said Chennithala.
Former state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran termed Vijayan “a coward of the first order” for failing to ask Chandy to quit and added that the Chief Minister should resign.
“Never before has the court made an observation that the cabinet has lost its collective responsibility. Vijayan appears to have stumbled before the ‘cash rich’ Chandy and Vijayan is also now an accused like Chandy as he has failed to ask for his resignation,” said Sudheeran.
State BJP general secretary M.T. Ramesh said it’s a shame that the court has come down heavily and questioned the very essence of Vijayan’s governance.
Meanwhile, Chandy is at Kochi and is likely to reach the state capital late in the night to take part in the weekly cabinet meeting held every Wednesday.
NCP state acting president T.P. Peethamabaran said a decision on Chandy would be taken by the NCP parliamentary board.

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