The Kerala Government and the Election Commission are on a collision course after the latter shifted Kannur (north Kerala) Collector VK Balakrishnan and asked the government to submit a fresh list of three officials for the post.
What really irked the state government was the EC’s reported suggestion to include two IAS officers - Dinesh Arora and Anand Singh - in the list. However, Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan had submitted a fresh panel, omitting these two names.
Alleged malpractices relating to enrollment of fresh voters had kicked off a raging controversy in the state with the ruling LDF and the Congress-led UDF engaging in a slanging match ever since the by-election for the politically-sensitive assembly seat was announced this month. The Congress had petitioned the EC earlier alleging that the Collector had colluded with the ruling party in fudging the electoral roll.
The CPM has criticized the EC’s move: “An independent body like EC should not be a tool in the hands of the Central government,” party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said.
The Congress has fielded former CPM MP AP Abdullhakutty and CPM party strongman MV Jayarajan for the prestigious seat. By-poll was necessitated after sitting MLA K Sudhakaran won the Kannur Lok Sabha seat. In the last LS election the Congress candidate had a majority of more than 23,000 votes in the assembly segment.
For the CPM Kannur is a prestigious seat, once it was the citadel of Communism and produced many tall leaders like AK Gopalan and E K Nayanar. Besides, Abdullhakutty who was shown the door for justifying Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and questioning the party’s new leadership is the Congress candidate in Thiruvananthapuram.