The LDF government in Kerala is likely to see the exit of a third minister from the cabinet in over a year after the High Court rapped Transport Minister Thomas Chandy in connection with allegations of land encroachment against him. Chandy, the lone NCP minister in the CPM-led government, is battling charges of violating wetland rules by allegedly encroaching a section of the Marthandam Lake to construct facilities for a resort that he owns with a relative. A fact-finding report by Alapuzha Collector T V Anupama had affirmed that the approach roads and parking facilities were constructed by illegally encroaching on land.
Chandy, the richest legislator in the state, had submitted a petition in the High Court seeking quashing of the IAS officer’s report alleging that his perspective on the issue was not heard. Prominent news channels like Mathrubhumi reported that the HC asked how Chandy could file a petition against the government that he himself was a part of. The court observed that the minister should have presented his view in front of the Collector instead of dragging it to court, the channel reported.
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The NCP, an ally of the CPM in the state, will meet on Tuesday and is likely to make its stand clear on its lone representative in the cabinet. So far, the party had refused to press for Chandy’s resignation. If the party agrees to his resignation, it would lead to a situation where the NCP will not have representation in the government since it has only two MLAs in the state. A K Saseendran, one of the two NCP MLAs in the Assembly, had to step down earlier this year after a leaked phone tape of him indulging in lewd conversation with a woman.
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While the CPI had pressed for Chandy’s resignation, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said decision will be taken over Chandy at the right time. “We will take appropriate decision at the right time, after considering High Court’s observation and NCP meeting decision. We will implement LDF’s decision,” said Vijayan.
has so far maintained silence on the matter. Despite reporters asking him about it in Kozhikode, the chief minister left the venue without saying anything. An earlier LDF coordination committee had entrusted the decision-making to the chief minister.
The Opposition Congress, which has consistently maintained that Chandy should go, was left red-faced when its Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, Vivek Tankha appeared in the High Court as part of Chandy’s legal counsel. Tankha was shown black flags on way to the court premises by youth Congress workers.