Dandapani denies weakening State's stance

Even as the agitation over the Mullaperiyar dam issue hots up in Idukki and Delhi, the Oommen Chandy government is under pressure to remove K.P. Dandapani as Advocate-General for his submissions before the Kerala High Court on Friday, which is alleged to have weakened the State's case for a new dam at Mullaperiyar.

Mr. Dandapani has strongly denied having said anything that would weaken the State's stance on the Mullaperiyar issue, and has said that he had only explained to a Division Bench of the High Court the evacuation plan prepared by the Idukki district administration.

However, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and the senior Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran have been quick in seeking Mr. Dandapani's removal from the post. On Sunday, the Nair Service Society also joined the chorus, and warned the government that failure to do so would be construed as a sign of weakness on its part.

Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had stated on Saturday that if the Accountant-General had indeed taken a position that went against the State's interests, he would have to account for it.

Law and Finance Minister K.M. Mani, who had defended Mr. Dandapani earlier, expressed his displeasure over the development, telling presspersons here on Sunday that no government department should make any submission to courts without getting them vetted by the Law Department. Whether all this would indeed result in Mr. Dandapani's removal as Advocate-General after the emergency Cabinet meeting late Monday night is a moot point, but there are clear signs that the government is worried about the fallout of inaction on the issue at the all-party meeting slated for Tuesday and the special Assembly session on Friday.

Meanwhile, chinks appeared to be developing in the ruling alliance over the issue with the KC(M) rejecting the Chief Minister's stand that Ministers should not participate in public protests over the Mullaperiyar issue.

Mr. Mani announced here that he would go on a day-long fast in the dam area in Idukki and his party colleague and Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph would do so at Birla Mandir in New Delhi. Mr. Joseph told presspersons in Delhi on Sunday that his fast was not an agitation but a prayer for a change of heart for the good of the people of Kerala.

The Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court to study the Mullaperiyar issue is meeting in New Delhi on Monday. Kerala has sought leave to make a presentation on the latest developments relating to the dam's safety before the committee. The NHRC is planning to take up the issue on Monday.