Kerala Transport minister Thomas Chandy resigns
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 15: Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy has resigned, said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president T.P. Peethambaran on Wednesday. The resignation letter has been handed over to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said Peethambaran, reported PTI.
The development comes a day after Kerala high court pulled up the minister over a case of land encroachment. The court asked the minister to step down and face the law as a common man.
The issue of Chandy’s resignation shook Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) as internal differences surfaced over the past month.
Earlier in the day, ministers from Communist Party of India or CPI, the second biggest alliance partner of the ruling LDF, boycotted the state cabinet meeting to protest Chandy’s presence at the meeting and demanding his resignation.
In an editorial on Wednesday, CPI mouthpiece Janayugam criticised Chandy strongly and asked him to step down immediately “without wasting even a minute”.
Vijayan, who met reporters after the cabinet meeting, confirmed that there is dissent within the front on the issue.
CPI ministers gave a note before the cabinet, said Vijayan, informing that their party has said they need not attend the cabinet meeting if Chandy is present there. This is unprecedented and should not have happened, he said.
On the resignation demand, Vijayan said, “I met NCP leaders today (Wednesday) morning. They are supposed to discuss the matter with their national leadership and get back to me soon… In a coalition government, I cannot take all decisions on my own… will wait for the decision from NCP.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM leaders, who attended the cabinet meeting, also asked for Chandy’s resignation, regional news channel Manorama News reported.
A single minister has put the government in a crisis for about a month, said public works minister G. Sudhakaran, reported the channel.
Chandy had moved the high court recently challenging the findings of an official probe that said he was guilty of public land encroachment and ecological violations. The court rejected Chandy’s petition and asked why the government had not sacked him for opposing an official probe.
The probe had found that a lake-side resort run by Chandy in a pristine location in Alappuzha district may have potentially violated environmental laws and encroached upon government land, among other illegalities, while building an approach road and reclaiming a portion of the lake for setting up a parking lot.
Chandy, the richest cabinet member and the sole NCP minister, said on Tuesday that he will not resign until Vijayan asks him to do so.