The Kerala Assembly saw a heated exchange between the treasury and Opposition benches on Tuesday on the subject of nepotism allegations against Minister for Local Administration KT Jaleel. The Opposition UDF has been demanding the resignation of Jaleel for appointing a relative to a key post in the Minority Finance Development Corporation (MFDC) without following due procedure.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke in favour of Jaleel in the Assembly, stating that no rules were violated in the appointment of the person concerned to the post. He added that the Corporation did not incur any losses due to his appointment. The chief minister said a cabinet approval is not required for deciding the eligibility criteria for appointment to the post and that his cabinet certainly did not make any such decision.
The minister in question, Jaleel, also made a statement in the Assembly reiterating that he has not violated any laws or indulged in corrupt practices in the appointment to the post at MFDC. He vowed that he would resign and leave public service if the charges against him could be legally proved.
Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the minister’s response, the Congress-led UDF walked out of the Assembly. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala slammed the chief minister saying that Vijayan has taken a contract to protect people associated with corruption.
The charges against Jaleel were brought to the fore by the youth wing of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a party that Jaleel was associated with before he was expelled in 2005 for speaking against the leadership. Jaleel subsequently contested the 2006 Assembly elections as an Independent candidate with LDF support, trouncing PK Kunjalikutty, then IUML general secretary, in Kuttippuram constituency. The victory boosted the image of Jaleel immensely as a defeat for Kunjalikutty in a bastion of the IUML was unthinkable. In 2011 and 2016, Jaleel won from the Thavanur constituency as an LDF-Independent candidate and was inducted into the Vijayan-cabinet this term.