Leaders of CPI(M), UDF cross swords

The dispute over the site for constructing an office for the District Planning Committee (DPC) that culminated in the disruption of a public function organised at the headquarters of the district panchayat here on Friday has sparked off a war of words between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the United Democratic Front.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, district panchayat president and DPC chairperson Remani P. Nair and UDF members of the DPC said the vandalism and violence unleashed by the Left Democratic Front on Friday posed a challenge to democracy. They said the mindless destruction of public property was the result of a conspiracy by the LDF leadership to terrorise political opponents and officials.

Ms. Nair said there were no grounds for a dispute over the site identified for the DPC office. “The DPC office should ideally be located close to the district panchayat. The decision on the site was taken unanimously at a meeting of the district panchayat and later by the DPC. The LDF members on these committees did not express dissent.”

The UDF members said the previous LDF government had failed to commence work on the project after laying the foundation stone for the DPC office near the Civil Station at Kudappanakunnu in 2009. The tender procedures were not initiated and soil testing was not done, they said.

Ms. Nair said the LDF members had initially cooperated with organising the function at the district panchayat office on Friday. “They abruptly changed their stand two days back and decided to oppose the choice of site for the project.” She said there was no question of the UDF going back from a democratic decision.

“We will not surrender to threats or political intimidation,” she said.

The UDF has demanded an investigation to unearth the role of CPI(M) leaders in the violence on Friday and bring the assailants to book. DPC members Aanad Jayan and Malayinkeezh Venugopal and district panchayat members Sophie Thomas and Subaida were present at the press meet.

CPI(M) stance

Meanwhile, the district committee of the CPI(M) on Saturday accused the UDF of attacking LDF workers who were staging a peaceful protest against the decision to shift the DPC office site from Kudappanakunnu to Pattom.

A press note quoting CPI(M) district secretary Kadakampally Surendran said the assailants were led by a Congress MLA. He accused the government of trying to foist false cases on CPI(M) leaders and party workers. He said the LDF stood by its protest against the decision to shift the project site.

Mr. Surendran warned that any attempt to protect the UDF leaders who had unleashed violence on CPI(M) workers would have serious repercussions.