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‘Tainted’ Kerala NCP legislators fight to retain berths in Pinarayi government

NCP state president TP Pithambaran said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has agreed to keep the transport minister’s post vacant and give it to whoever comes clean first.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2017 17:39 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
NCP,Kerala,Pinarayi Vijayan-led alliance government
Thomas Chandy resigned as Kerala transport minister on Wednesday after the high court severely reprimanded him over land-grab charges against him. (PTI Photo)

Two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislators in Kerala are racing against time to come clean in separate court cases and regain a vacant ministerial berth in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led alliance government.

Millionaire businessman-turned-politician Thomas Chandy resigned as Kerala’s transport minister on Wednesday after the high court severely reprimanded him over land-grab charges against him.

Chandy was inducted in the ministry in April replacing AK Saseendran after a journalist levelled charges of sexual harassment against him.

NCP state president TP Pithambaran said the chief minister has agreed to keep the transport minister’s post vacant and give it to whoever comes clean first.

The NCP is part of the CPM-led ruling alliance led that includes the CPI, JD (U), Kerala Congress (S) and Kerala Congress (B). Kerala has a 140-member house.

“The CM was very sympathetic towards us. He agreed to keep the slot vacant and give it to whoever comes out clean of the trumped-up charges. The post won’t be vacant for too long,” Pithambaran told HT.

Saseendran is working for an out-of-court settlement with the journalist, who approached a court saying she was willing to withdraw her plaint. After a lower court turned down her withdrawal plea, she has moved the high court.

The government had appointed a judicial commission to inquire into allegations after a news channel aired a telephone call in which a man believed to be Saseendran is heard having a sexually explicit conversation with a woman.

Sources said even if the case is withdrawn, the government will have to allow the judicial commission to end its probe and report its findings.

Thomas Chandy has also said he will move the Supreme Court to challenge the charges. Chandy’s company allegedly violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district.

Alapuzha district collector, TV Anupama, had also submitted a report against him.

“The HC observation was based on the Alappuzha district collector’s report. She was forced to give a report against me. The allegations levelled against me are frivolous,” he said.

Anupama, an IAS officer, has pointed out many violations of the Kerala Land Utilisation Order 1967 and Kerala Conservation of Paddy and West Land Act 2008 by the resort owned by Chandy.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 15:12 IST