Ex-CM flays Kerala government stand on fee hike issue

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 2 (IANS) Former Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on Sunday accused the state government of handling the indefinite fast by opposition legislators on the “steep” fee hike in a wrong manner.

“The government stand is not right, It’s very wrong the way the issue (of fee hike by self-financing private medical colleges in the state) is being handled,” Achuthanandan told reporters here.

Since Wednesday, three legislators of the Congress-led opposition have been on an indefinite fast in the foyer of the Kerala Assembly alleging that there was collusion between the state government, led by Pinarayi Vijayan, and private medical college managements who raised fees steeply.

The fast entered its fifth day on Sunday and on Saturday the health of former state Minister Anup K. Jacob deteriorated forcing him to be shifted to hospital.

Achuthanandan, whose rivalry with Vijayan is well-known, appeared to have lost no time in putting Vijayan on the back foot and Sunday’s statement gave enough ammunition to the Congress-led opposition for when the assembly meets on Monday after a two-day break.

Last week, Achuthanandan called on the fasting legislators and spent some time with them, enquiring about their health, while Vijayan was yet to do the same.

The two have been at loggerheads for long and Achuthanandan is still to come to terms with being sidelined by the party leadership — which handed over the Chief Minister’s post to Vijayan — after it used him so successfully in the assembly election campaign.

“Anyone with sense will only say that an amicable solution should come from the government to end the ongoing impasse and we welcome the statement of Achuthanandan,” said State Congress President V.M. Sudheeran.

The opposition has taken a tough stand against the way the Vijayan government has handled the issue of fee hike by self-financing private medical colleges in the state and said that they would not call-off the protest till the hike was rolled back.