Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, on Tuesday, objected to the Cabinet decision to convert 35 schools in Malappuram functioning under a Union government scheme into aided institutions.
Mr. Chennithala made his position known to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy soon after the issue figured in the Assembly and left the State government in a spot.
He is understood to have said that the decision would lead to a major socio-political polarisation which could not be rectified by the United Democratic Front together or the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League separately. No discussions had been held in the forums of the ruling front or in the Congress before such an important policy decision was taken.
The Cabinet meeting of June 13 took the decision overruling five major objections raised by the Finance Department, questioning its legality and the additional financial burden on the State government. It gave retrospective effect to the decision, thus sanctioning Rs. 52 crore in arrears of dearness allowance to the employees with a proviso that the amount would be added to their Provident Fund accounts.
Mr. Chennithala said that the decision, if implemented, would, in effect, add 35 more schools in the aided sector.
Sources said the Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty called up Mr. Chennithala to explain the situation, but the Congress leader stood his ground. The KPCC president said that he was not opposed to giving aided status to these institutions, but there should have been some parity in the decision in favour of schools run by other sections as well.
Mr. Chennithala’s stand makes it difficult for the government to go ahead with its decision if only because of the heated debates it was likely to generate in the coming days. His stand will add to the discomfiture of the government, which found itself on the back foot when the Opposition raised the issue during the course of the Education Minister’s reply to the demand for grants related to his department.