Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy resigns over land grab charges
Thomas Chandy’s resignation came a day after the Kerala high court severely reprimanded him over the land-grab charges and questioned his continuance in the Pinarayi Vijayan government.india Updated: Nov 15, 2017 20:25 IST
Millionaire businessman-turned-politician Thomas Chandy resigned as Kerala’s transport minister on Wednesday amid mounting pressure over land-grab charges against him.
Chandy’s resignation came a day after the Kerala high court severely reprimanded him over the land-grab charges and questioned his continuance in the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan .
Chandy’s company allegedly violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district. Last week, a vigilance court also ordered a probe into the charges. The Alapuzha district collector had submitted a report against him.
“These are all trumped up charges. I will come out clean,” Chandy said after quitting. Sources said Chandy agreed to put in his papers only after the chief minister promised to give him back his berth once he is exonerated by the court.
Chandy said he would move the Supreme Court and expressed confidence of returning to the ministry after getting a favourable verdict.
He is the third minister to quit the Pinarayi government that came to power in May last year.
Chandy was clinging on to power citing technicalities but was finally forced to quit after allies questioned his continuance in the government. Four ministers of the CPI boycotted a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, considered an unusual step for a coalition partner.
Still, despite mounting pressure from allies and many senior leaders including veteran V S Achuthanandan, the chief minister continued to defend him in public.
The Pinarayi government came to power riding on a wave of public anger over alleged corruption by the previous Congress-led regime.
An expatriate businessman, Chandy was inducted into the Pinarayi government in April following the resignation of minister AK Saseendran after a TV channel aired the audio of a sexually explicit telephone conversation, allegedly between him and a woman journalist seeking a favour.
There are several allegations of land grab against Chandy.
The government had asked Alapuzha collector TV Anupama two months ago to probe the charges and submit a report. In her report, Anupama said Chandy’s company grabbed government land and filled a water body illegally to construct a parking lot. But the government dragged its feet, and chose to seek legal advice on the collector’s report.
The minister also pleaded innocence saying the resort was constructed 13 years ago and it was improper to raise the allegations now.