As the Kerala Law Academy students' protest continued for the 19th day on Sunday, the ruling CPI-M finally intervened, calling its Director Narayanan Nair and his brother and three-time former party legislator Koliyakode Krishnan Nair to the state party headquarters to discuss the issue.
Communist Party of India-Marxist state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan met Narayanan Nair, his advocate son Nagarajan Narayanan and Krishnan Nair, a day after former Chief Minister and party veteran V.S. Achuthanandan strongly condemned the way in which the academy is being run and demanded immediate intervention of the Pinarayi Vijayan government.
The private college, set up in Thiruvananthapuram in 1968, has till now enjoyed absolute support from successive state governments, enabling it to an 11-acre campus besides a prime plot of land in the heart of the city, where it has built a commercial complex with a private builder.
With Narayanan Nair now old, his daughter, Principal Lekshmi Nair, runs the show in what students alleged is a very brash manner. That is the prime reason all quarters and all parties, barring the CPI-M, are demanding the state government take over the institution and the students have demanded her resignation.
However, her brother Nagarajan Narayanan, speaking to the media after the meeting at the CPI-M headquarters, rejected the demand for her resignation.
"The right to work is a fundamental right and she has been a teacher for the past 27 years and it's her right to work, so the demand of her resignation is not acceptable," said Narayanan.
"A petition is coming up in the high court on Tuesday and even though we have been given police protection, it's not enough. Now we will wait to hear from the court," he said.
Jakes C. Thomas, who is the President of the state unit of the Students Federation of India, the student wing of the CPI-M, said there is no question of any dilution in their protests.
"Our main demand is that the principal has to step down and there's no going back on it," he said.
The image of the CPI-M has been dented as this is perhaps the first time that the party failed to intervene in a student protest, which by now has become the state's most talked-about event.
Those opposing the manner in which the academy is being run point out that when it was set up in 1968, there was a committee that had the state Governor as its patron, besides the Chief Minister, ministers and judges as members, but now it is run only by the father and daughter duo.
The academy's alumni include many leading politicians, judges, lawyers, high-ranking police officers and bureaucrats and this is seen as the reason the father-daughter duo could so far ignore all past protests.