Kerala minister quits over domestic violence allegation

Thiruvananthapuram, April 2 (IANS) Kerala's State Forest and Sports Minister K.B.Ganesh Kumar handed over his resignation to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy late Monday night after his estranged wife accused him of ill-treatment.

Forty-six year old film star-turned-politician was accompanied by his friend and State Labour Minister Shibu Baby John and other friends from the film industry including ace director Shaji Kailas and producer Suresh Kumar at the chief minister's official residence.

Though earlier in the evening he refused to resign, K.B.Ganesh Kumar was forced to change his mind after his estranged wife Yamini Thankachi, a medical professional, complained about his ill treatment of her in written to Chandy.

Chandy accepted the letter and asked her to approach the nearest police station.

The chief minister then called the director general of police, K.S.Balasubramanion, and his senior cabinet colleagues and held closed door discussions.

Speaking to reporters Chandy said that Kumar's wife had come with a written complaint against the minister. "I called the DGP and handed over the complaint. In the morning Kumar had also registered a complaint at the police station.

"And now in the light of this he has decided to resign and his resignation will be sent to the governor tomorrow," he said.

Kumar, in the presence of Chandy, said he was stepping down to keep the high moral standards."For an impartial inquiry into the allegations that have been levelled, it's improper for me to continue as a minister and hence I have stepped down.".

Earlier in the day, Thankachi accused Chandy of "cheating" her by not accepting her complaint of domestic violence by her husband who was now moving to divorce her.

She claimed to have been assured by Chandy for his intervention to solve the matter amicably. But hours later Kumar filed for divorce, alleging harassment including physical torture, by his doctor wife Thankachy.

"I had a complaint with me but the CM did not accept it and told me that he will intervene and bring an amicable settlement.

Chandy dismissed the charge.

"The last date according to the agreement was yesterday (Sunday) and I spoke to the CM yesterday (Sunday) also but today (Monday) I hear that the minister has filed a divorce petition. I was cheated by the CM," said Thankachi.

"I have been facing the brutal physical assault against me by the minister for the past 16 years and everyone in his family (including his father and former minister R.Balakrishna Pillai) is well aware of my sufferings.

"I placed a lot of hope on the CM but he too cheated me," she added.

Earlier in the day, Kumar refused to resign in the wake of the allegations and accused her of demanding Rs.75 lakh to be deposited in her name.

Reacting to Thankachi's allegations, Chandy admitted having assured her of his intervention to solve the dispute. "She had not given me any written complaint."

"I did my best to intervene to solve their issues and in the first round, I succeeded. The agreement was made out but it failed in the implementation part. I feel she is being prompted by some external forces," he said.

Meanwhile, the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) accused Chandy of misleading the assembly and demanded his resignation.

"If a minister's wife is not able to get her issues sorted out in a domestic violence case and Chandy totally hid this from the assembly when he made a statement last month. He has no other go but to quit," former home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters.

Leader of Opposition V.S.Achuthanandan also jumped into the fray and demanded Chandy's resignation for misleading the house on the issue of domestic violence in the case of the minister and his wife.