The UDF is in the midst of a running controversy over the status of the leased land at Nelliampathy, with a clear division emerging not only within the coalition, but also in the Congress.
A leadership meeting of the Untied Democratic Front (UDF) will be held here on Monday to work out a formula to wriggle out of the knot it has tied around itself in the Nelliampathy leased land issue.
The UDF is in the midst of a running controversy over the status of the leased land at Nelliampathy, with a clear division emerging not only within the coalition, but also in the Congress. It has become certain that the UDF leadership will not be able to take a political stand on this issue because the subcommittee it had appointed to study the current status has not yet been able to submit its report to enable it to take a rationale decision.
The committee was a non-starter in the first place because it could not take up its task for over six months after it was set up and got into action only after the open clash between Government Chief Whip P.C. George and Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar disputing the status of the land, followed by another clash between Mr. George and Congress MLA T.N. Prathapan, leading to a grouping of UDF MLAs on the platform of green politics.
Mr. Hassan, who headed the sub-committee, had to resign in a huff when the group led a delegation to the area on a fact finding mission outside the framework of the coalition. The MLAs’ grouping put the environmental issues related to lease land on the debating table, but the fact remained that their moves cast a shadow on the functioning of the UDF panel.
The Kerala Congress (M), alarmed by the headway made the green political formation, in the meantime made it clear that it did not view the Nelliampathy issue in isolation since it was linked to status of settler farmers and leased land.
The stand of the new green political group has come as a headache not only for the Kerala Congress (M), but also for the Congress, which has been competing with the former for a space in Central Travancore, the core constituency of settler farmers. In this context, the immediate agenda before the UDF leaders at Monday’s meeting would be to select a convener for its dysfunctional subcommittee, revive its functioning, and infuse some kind of credibility to its exercise, prior to deciding on the path out of the maze of political and legal entanglements on the Nelliampathy issue.
In addition, it would also have to respond to charges of the green MLAs that certain sections were trying to weaken the State government’s position in court cases related to lease land.