K.B. Ganesh Kumar, the first minister to bow out of office of the Oommen Chandy government, can take solace from the fact that he is not the first Forest Minister in Kerala’s political history to demit office before completing full term.
The Ministry of Forests (now clubbed with Sports and Cinema) has an interesting history of not lodging its minister for the full term or acquitting them honourably . Starting from K.G. Adiyodi (though he completed full term) in the early seventies, a series of forest ministers had to leave office in not so honourable circumstances. M.P. Veerendrakumar holds a dubious record of having been the occupant of the Forest Minister’s chair for less than twenty-four hours. His replacement N.M. Joseph, who had sincerely worked to weed out rampant corruption in the ministry, was at the receiving end of continuous taunts from his detractors in the miniscule party of Janata Dal. Another Minister K.P. Viswanathan had to relinquish charge following infighting when K. Karunakaran was the Chief Minister and the former came under adverse High Court strictures during his tenure as Forest Minister.
In the A.K. Antony Cabinet, Forest Minister K Sudhakaran was at loggerheads with colleagues like K.M. Mani and the row over encroachment at Mathikettan range highlighted by Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan did him in. Neelalohitadasan Nadar was another controversial Forest Minister who had to quit over a sex scandal involving a senior IAS officer and another woman IFS (Indian Forest Service) officer. It was during Binoy Viswom’s tenure that the Nelliampathy issue came to the fore. Mr. Viswom was also later caught in a political storm over the ‘Merchiston estate controversy’ when he completed his term as Forest Minister. The latest is K.B. Ganesh Kumar who had lived up to the short-tenure reputation of forest minister.