A meeting of the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) state executive will be held at Kochi on Tuesday amid a mounting pressure on the party nominee in the LDF government, Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, to quit over allegations of land encroachments in Alappuzha district. Upping the ante against Chandy, hundreds of BJP workers gathered in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram today and staged a protest, demanding his immediate resignation from the state cabinet.
Though the Kerala NCP leadership sought to downplay the significance of tomorrow’s meeting, saying it was planned a month ago to discuss organisational matters, party insiders said the Chandy issue would be discussed by the 100-member executive committee, particularly in view of the NCP’s souring relations with LDF partner CPI over the issue.
Following reports that CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran had strongly pressed for Chandy’s resignation at an LDF meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, the NCP hit out at the Left party, saying its stand on many issues had put the CPI(M)-led LDF government in trouble.
“The CPI airs a different view on every issue…We cannot say that the party is anti-government, but the enemies (of the government) are the beneficiaries of the stand taken by it on many issues,” NCP state president T P Peethambaran Master told reporters at Kochi.
The NCP, which has only two members in the Kerala Assembly, is making an all-out effort to protect its nominee in the LDF government.
Master said the authority to take decisions on any matter, including nominating or quitting of its nominee from a government, was vested with the party’s central parliamentary board.
The party was of the view that a final decision on the issue should be based on the high court’s decision on Chandy’s petition, seeking to quash the Alappuzha collector’s report on the alleged encroachment of paddy fields for a lake resort owned by the minister, he added.
Launching the protest at Thiruvananthapuram, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said there was no question of any compromise on the demand for Chandy’s resignation.
“Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should explain why is he protecting Chandy, even though all the legal advices related to the issue are against the minister,” he said.
Later, a BJP delegation led by Rajasekharan met Governor P Sathasivam and submitted a memorandum demanding Chandy’s resignation.
The LDF had on Sunday decided to entrust Vijayan with taking an appropriate decision on whether Chandy should continue as a minister.
Kerala Advocate General C P Sudhakara Prasad had recently informed the state government that the Alappuzha collector’s report on the alleged encroachment was legally binding and that its findings could not be ignored.
The government had sought the AG’s legal opinion on the matter after getting the report from Collector T V Anupama, wherein she confirmed that a paddy field was reclaimed for laying a road to the lake resort.
Chandy had also allegedly encroached on the backwaters to construct a parking space for the resort, according to the collector’s report.
Chandy became a minister only eight months ago, following the resignation of his party colleague, A K Saseendran, from the state cabinet over the issue of an alleged sleaze talk with a woman.