After days of speculation, Kerala Transport Minister and NCP leader Thomas Chandy, facing land encroachment charges, has submitted his resignation from the cabinet. Chandy, the richest legislator in the state, is the third minister in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s cabinet to step down in the last 16 months.
Chandy’s resignation letter was handed over to CM Vijayan by NCP state president TP Peethambaran Master. The letter has been forwarded to Governor P Sathasivam, the Chief Minister told reporters.
Chandy, the MLA from Kuttanad in Alappuzha district, is accused of violating wetland rules by encroaching a section of a lake to construct an approach road and parking facilities for the Lake Palace resort, that he owns with a relative. Alappuzha district collector TV Anupama had submitted a report, alleging gross violation of conservation norms, to the revenue department.
On Tuesday, a division bench of the Kerala High Court had dismissed Chandy’s petition seeking quashing of the collector’s report. The HC asked Chandy how he could petition against the government when he was a part of the cabinet and told him to approach the collector’s office.
Chandy, today, told Mathrubhumi News that Vijayan assured him that the transport ministry portfolio, allocated to the NCP, would remain vacant until he, or NCP MLA AK Saseendran, gets acquitted of the charges. The NCP, an ally of the CPM-led LDF, has only two MLAs in the Assembly – Chandy and Saseendran.
Chandy’s resignation is expected to hit the image of CM Vijayan hard since he has personally vowed not to tolerate corruption within the government. Saseendran, the former transport minister, had resigned in March this year after he was caught on tape having a sleazy conversation with a woman. Industries Minister EP Jayarajan too had quit last year over nepotism charges.