'Lakshadweep India's jewel in ocean': Rahul Gandhi joins chorus of protest against administrator Praful Patel
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday pledged support to people of Lakshadweep who are protesting over new reforms introduced by the union territory's administrator Praful Khoda Patel. In a tweet, the Member of Parliament from Wayanad said that Lakshadweep is India's "jewel in the ocean".
"The ignorant bigots in power are destroying it. I stand with the people of Lakshadweep," he said on Twitter.
Rahul's remarks come a day after his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra criticised Patel's move and accused him of destroying the the heritage of the group of islands located in the Arabian Sea.
“The BJP government and its administration have no business to destroy this heritage, to harass the people of Lakshadweep or to impose arbitrary restrictions and rules on them,” Priyanka Gandhi said on Twitter.
Patel is being slammed for approving the anti-social activities regulation bill, 2021, which empowers government to mandatory acquire private property for development, gives police powers to detain anyone, removes beef from the mid-day meal, allows cutting of trees for road expansion projects and introduces two-child norm for contesting in local body elections. He also gave a nod to open liquor bars in the island, a non-alcoholic zone due to its Muslim population.
Many Congress leaders have said that such measures should not have been taken without consulting the inhabitants of the islands.
Congress general secretary, K C Venugopal, on Tuesday petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention in the immediate removal of the administrator. He alleged that the administrator is imposing a series of measures that have caused immense disturbance and disquiet in Lakshadweep.
On the same day, the party's Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Kerala, VD Satheesan, wrote a letter to Union home minister Amit Shah in this regard.
"After the appointment of the new Administrator in the island, breaking the convention of IAS officers to the post, the people of Lakshadweep are being subjected to many undemocratic measures against which a huge resentment is growing in the island," Satheesan wrote in the letter.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lakshadweep unit president Mohammad Kasim also joined the chorus of protest against Patel. Kasim said people should be taken into confidence before announcing sweeping changes.
Patel, the administrator of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, was given additional charge of Lakshadweep in last December following the demise of administrator Dineshwar Sharma.