Kerala: Thomas Chandy resigns over allegations of land grab
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said Chandy's party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has asked for more time to decide on the issue.
Kerala's Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, who is facing land encroachment allegations, resigned from his post today. Informed sources had told India Today that he is willing to step down,
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said Chandy's party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has asked for more time to decide on the issue. "The NCP leaders and minister have asked for more time to discuss the issue with national leadership. I cannot decline their request. They will inform me the decision after the meeting," Vijayan said this morning.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
- India Today has learnt that Thomas Chandy has informed the state cabinet that he is willing to step down after the Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed his petition for quashing the Alappuzha district collector's report which alleged large-scale land grab by him to build a plush resort.
- Chandy met CM Vijayan at the latter's official Cliff House residence in Thiruvananthapuram this morning. In the meeting that lasted for 40 minutes, Vijayan is believed to have told Chandy that he will take a call on his resignation after receiving the High Court order.
- Vijayan had come under fire from several quarters for protecting Chandy, much against the wishes of the other allies of the Left Front government.
- Meanwhile, the Kerala cabinet also met this morning, which was also reportedly attended by Chandy.
- On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court's division bench of Justice PN Ravindran and Justice Devan Ramachandran came down heavily on Chandy and observed that it was very strange what a state minister has filed a petition against the state government "which questions the failure of the collective responsibility of the cabinet". Through the judgment, Chandy has lost all hope of continuing as a minister.
- In the state capital, hectic political parleys began late on Tuesday evening in the aftermath of the court decision. Vijayan arrived at the state party headquarters and was closetted with CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and later with his cabinet colleagues on what needs to be done with the now-tainted cabinet colleague Chandy.
- Ever since the allegation of land grab surfaced three months back, the Congress-led opposition, the BJP and even the second biggest ally of the Vijayan government - the Communist Party of India - had been demanding the resignation of Chandy.
- The controversy over Thomas Chandy's alleged land grab surfaced after Alappuzha district collector TV Anupama submitted a report in August saying that portions of the Marthandam lake had been usurped for building the minister's plush Lake Palace Resort, besides a paddy field was levelled for a parking lot for the resort.
- The Congress party in Kerala was put in an embarrassing spot after the party's senior Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha, a former Additional Solicitor General of India, appeared as counsel for Chandy.
- Chandy had become a minister only eight months ago, following the resignation of his party colleague, AK Saseendran, from the state cabinet over the issue of an alleged sleaze talk with a woman.
With inputs from P S Gopikrishnan Unnithan