The controversy over CPI ministers’ boycott of a cabinet meeting Wednesday that was attended by minister Thomas Chandy, minutes before he put in his papers, has blown into a war of words between the CPI(M) and the CPI to take credit for Chandy’s exit.
On Wednesday morning, when the prospect of Chandy’s resignation was hovering in the air, four CPI ministers stayed away from the weekly cabinet to register their protest against Chandy continuing as a minister. During the post-cabinet media briefing, CM Pinarayi Vijayan remarked about the conduct of the CPI ministers. “Their action is unusual. Chandy has every right to attend the cabinet as long as he is a minister,’’ Vijayan said.
Since Chandy resigned soon after the cabinet meeting, it was construed that the CPI’s boycott contributed to the decision. Chandy, who is in the NCP, is accused of violating wetland rules by encroaching on a section of a lake to make a road and parking area for a resort he co-owns.
On Thursday, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said in a Facebook post: “The party and its ministers have decided for the boycott (the cabinet) because that the unusual situation demanded unusual action.” He said the unusual action led to the expected result — Chandy’s resignation.
The boycott of the CPI ministers and the bid to take credit for the resignation triggered a protest from CPI(M) leaders Thursday. CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said: “The CPI should think whether the boycott of the cabinet is suitable for the dignity of the LDF. The approach of laurels for us (CPI) and brickbats for you (CPM) is not good when both parties are… in a coalition.’’
He said the cabinet meeting began after ensuring a decision soon from the NCP on Chandy. “It was at this juncture that the CPI informed the Chief Minister through a letter about its decision to keep away from the cabinet (meeting)…. If people construed that CPI ministers boycotted the cabinet to usurp the credit for Chandy’s resignation, we cannot find fault with them,’’ Balakrishan said.