Domestic violence, melodrama, politics and dirty picture – a heady brew held Kerala enthralled on All Fool’s Day. But the plot was anything but foolish.
It began with a feud between actor-turned-forest minister KB Ganesh Kumar and his wife Yamini Thankachi. The couple made allegations of violence against each other – photos of broken nose et al – on television.
Sitting on a wafer-thin majority – only three above the magic figure of 71 — in the assembly, chief minister Oommen Chandy had to step in. For, Kumar had threatened to quit as a legislator if he had to resign as minister.
But Chandy’s efforts ended in a fiasco and he turned the fall guy, earningthe opposition’s sobriquet of “best actor”. While Kumar resigned within hours, Thankachi squarely blamed the chief minister.
The couple’s 16-year marriage had hardly been a success. Back in 2000, Thankachi filed a divorce suit, but a diligent family court managed to patch them up. The peace, however, proved short-lived.
This time, in view of the stringent provisions of the new domestic violence act that are heavily loaded against the men, 46-year-old Kumar decided on a pre-emptive strike. Armed with a set of photos — one even showing him bruised and bleeding — he moved the family court, alleging physical and mental abuse.
Minutes later, a sobbing Thankachi, with her right hand in a bandage, appeared before television cameras and reeled out her husband’s sexcapades. But more than her husband, her ire was directed against the CM, who apparently had stopped her approaching the police with promises of brokering peace.
As she said, “The CM is a fatherly figure, but he has cheated me”, the opposition lost no time in the fray, saying, “He (Chandy) proved he’s a better actor than Ganesh Kumar.”
Red-faced, Chandy later said, “My only aim was to end the dispute amicably.” He said, everything was “settled”, but “I don’t know how it got sabotaged at the eleventh hour. I suspect the hands of some people who really wanted it to flare up.”
The VIP domestic dispute, apparently, had too many stakeholders.
Many suspect the hands of Kumar’s estranged father R Balakrishna Pillai. A former minister and leader of UDF constituent Congress(B) convicted in a corruption case, he was adamant that his son be removed from the minister’s post. And he had a reason too: He failed to use his son to get key positions for party functionaries.
There’s also UDF chief whip PC George, who was the first to go to town with tales of violence between husband and wife.
The drama is far from over, as the stage is now set for a legal battle between the couple.