The political crisis in the ruling alliance in Kerala, leading to Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation late on Monday night, spilled over into the Assembly on Tuesday with the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) bringing the day’s proceedings of the House to an abrupt end, demanding Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s resignation.
Outside the House, a tense situation prevailed for sometime in the forenoon when a march to the Assembly by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activists, also seeking the Chief Minister’s resignation, turned violent. Police used water cannons and teargas shells to disperse the DYFI activists. At least two DYFI activists were injured and later hospitalised when the police fired teargas canisters.
In the Assembly, the CPI(M)-led Opposition accused the Chief Minister of having committed a serious breach of law and oath of office by ‘refusing’ to accept the written complaint that Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s wife Yamini Thankachi had taken with her when she called on him on March 7. The Opposition, which sought an adjournment of the House to discuss the issue, said the Chief Minister had lost the legal and moral right to remain in office as he had acted in a partisan manner and in violation of the law relating to domestic violence.
The Chief Minister responded that he had acted in the best interest of the family and had tried to handle the issue with the maturity called for in such situations. He reiterated his claim that he had not received any written complaint when Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s wife first called on him. He said he had acted immediately on receipt of a written complaint from her late on Monday evening and asked the police to take appropriate follow-up action. He was confident that the law would take its course in the matter.
Making a personal statement, Mr. Ganesh Kumar told the House that he had decided to resign because he did not think it morally correct to remain in office when a police investigation was underway against him. He attributed the allegations against him to a deep-seated conspiracy hatched by some who were ‘out for his blood’. He would stand by the UDF and continue his battle against forces of corruption, Mr. Ganesh Kumar said.
Shortly after the House dispersed, the Chief Minister’s office received a communication from Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar accepting Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s resignation as Forest Minister. That also triggered discussions within the Congress on what should be done to re-allocate the portfolios (mainly Forests and Cinema) held by Mr. Ganesh Kumar, a film actor by profession. The discussion appeared to be moving in the direction of the Congress retaining the portfolios, perhaps by inducting one of the party MLAs belonging to the Nair community into the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s estranged father and Kerala Congress (B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai said the party saw no reason to shed even a drop of tear for Mr. Ganesh Kumar. He also expressed dismay at Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s refusal to vacate his Assembly seat.