Minister’s wife complains to Chandy of physical and mental torture

The United Democratic Front (UDF) leadership has launched a fire-fighting exercise to limit the damage caused by the controversy surrounding Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar’s personal affairs ahead of Thursday’s high power committee meeting of the ruling coalition.

The Congress party’s government coordination committee, which met late on Wednesday evening, decided to entrust Chief Minister Oommen Chandy with the task of examining the issue in detail.

At the end of the day, there were signs of division in the UDF, with one section of leaders throwing their weight behind Mr. Ganesh Kumar, demanding strong action against Government Chief Whip P.C. George who triggered the controversy that has put the coalition on a needle point. Another section of leaders, led by Mr. George, demanded the Minister’s resignation.

The controversy, which broke out a couple of days ago, took a new turn when the Minister’s wife Yamini met Mr. Chandy at his residence on Wednesday morning and complained to him about Mr. Ganesh Kumar. The details of her meeting with the Chief Minister is not yet known, but the information available from various political sources suggested that she had referred to the mental and physical harassment she had to suffer and her resolve to move for divorce. She had also sought an assurance for her children’s protection. Sources pointed out that she had not submitted her complaint in writing.

Mr. Chandy refused to divulge any information at the post-Cabinet briefing and maintained that he would be the first person to inform the media about any development. There were speculation that Mr. Ganesh Kumar had submitted his resignation, but the Minister cleared the air when he told media persons that he had not submitted his papers. He said he would abide by the Chief Minister’s decision on the issue.

Congress panel

In the meantime, the Congress party’s government coordination committee went into session late in the evening. Even though the meeting had been convened last week and had several other issues listed on its agenda, the controversy surrounding Mr. Ganesh Kumar figured prominently in the discussions.

Mr. George shot off a letter to the Chief Minister explaining his stand and the reasons for disclosing the Minister’s name. Mr. Ganesh Kumar also submitted a letter to the Chief Minister and the UDF convener P.P. Thankachan accusing Mr. George of harbouring a personal vendetta against him for the strong stand he took in the Nelliyampathy case.

The two had earlier clashed inside the Assembly and outside over the Forest Minister’s decision to take over some controversial estates in the high ranges of Palakkad district.

When the UDF meets at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, it will consider three main issues — the letter of Kerala Congress (B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai withdrawing his party’s nominee Mr. Ganesh Kumar from the Chandy Cabinet, the reaction against Mr. George for his action, the complaint of the Minister’s wife.