Chandy’s resignation was handed over by Peethambaran Master, the acting President of the NCP to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

After days of hanging on to power Kerala minister Thomas Chandy resigns
news Politics Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 12:58

He was belligerent first, then he challenged investigators, but finally Kerala's Transport Minister Thomas Chandy has been forced to resign.

After many hours of high drama at the Kerala Secretariat, Thomas Chandy finally resigned and left in the state government’s car to his hometown Alappuzha.

Chandy’s resignation was handed over by Peethambaran Master, the acting President of the NCP to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.  

This is the third minister from the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet who has been forced to resign. While CPI (M) heavyweight EP Jayarajan was forced to resign in October 2016 as the Industries and Sports Minister following allegations of nepotism. In March 2017, AK Saseendran, NCP member and Transport Minister was forced to quit after a tape with sexual conversation surfaced. Thomas Chandy had replaced Saseendran in the cabinet.

The Drama on Wednesday 

Though Chandy was expected to announce his resignation at the cabinet meeting that was called on Wednesday morning, the meeting did not discuss Thomas Chandy, Pinarayi Vijayan later told the media. The CM added that he was waiting for NCP’s decision.

“The LDF had taken two decisions earlier. LDF said the CM should decide and that the NCP should inform its stand to CM. In the middle of this, the case came up in the High Court and the court dismissed his petition. I was supposed to hold talks with the NCP and I could not meet them on Tuesday. I met Pithambaran master and Thomas Chandy on Wednesday morning. They told me they had to discuss with the national leadership today itself. They will inform me what the national leadership has said,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Soon after this press meet by the CM, the NCP leadership met in the capital city and decided Chandy’s fate.

Pinarayi Vijayan and Thomas Chandy were boxed into a corner by not just the opposition, but even allies like the CPI. The CPI had refused to attend the cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, opposing Chandy’s presence.

The resignation comes a day after the Kerala High Court dismissed his plea seeking to quash a report by Alappuzha District Collector TV Anupama accusing him of land grab. 

Dismissing the plea on Tuesday, the HC slammed the Left Democratic Front (LDF) minister for filing a plea against his own government. The court said that it was better that the minister step down from the government, considering that the first respondent in his petition was the state government. 

“In a cabinet that has collective responsibility, without taking the Chief Minister into confidence approaching court against a District Collector's report is a classic case of disqualification. Are you saying that the court should protect you?” reports quoted the HC as saying. 

The court observed that the minister's action was unconstitutional and pointed out that the government has lost confidence in the minister.

Thomas Chandy, who is the richest legislator in the state, belongs to the National Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the LDF.

Reacting to the HC dismissing the minister's petition, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has largely been silent on the allegation against one of his ministers, had told reporters that "appropriate decision will be taken at the appropriate time." 

The case

The controversy over Thomas Chandy's land grab surfaced after Alappuzha district collector TV Anupama submitted a report to Revenue Principal Secretary PH Kurian in August. 

Read: From IAS topper to upright officer taking on Kerala’s high and mighty, meet TV Anupama

The report stated that portions of Marthandam Lake had been leveled for building the Minister’s Lake Palace Resort. The report has also said that a paddy field was levelled to build a parking lot for the resort. 

Ever since the controversy broke, NCP has been backing its only minister in the Pinarayi cabinet. The state government had also delayed taking a stand in the matter, asking Thomas Chandy to decide whether he will step down or not. 

 

 

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