The ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) on Monday took a conscious decision to ignore the ongoing agitation of Left parties and organisations against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien in connection with the Suryanelli case. The UDF high-power committee, which met here on Monday, did not take up the issue for discussion and instead focussed on issues “that affected the people” such as price rise, drought situation, and drinking water shortage.

“Not a word was mentioned on the issue. We don’t view the agitation seriously,” UDF convener P.P. Thankachan said soon after the meeting. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has already stated the State government’s and the UDF’s stand on the issue. The agitation of the Left parties was politically motivated and should be seen in the context of the current Assembly session. Besides, the CPI(M) was using the issue to divert public attention from the schism within that party, he said. The controversy over Prof. Kurien’s alleged involvement would not affect the image of the UDF, he said. To the best of his knowledge, the All India Congress Committe had made an official statement rejecting the demand for Prof. Kurien’s resignation.

He said he did not want to add more to the controversy on the Suryanelli case which had been considered by courts. But there was no basis for Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan’s criticism since he had failed to take any kind of action on similar cases during his tenure as Chief Minister.

Price rise

The committee expressed its satisfaction at the steps taken by the government to tackle price rise. The meeting entrusted Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob and Panchayats and Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer to evolve a mechanism to weed out bogus beneficiaries on the APL and BPL lists.

Mr. Thankachan said the Cabinet will hold a special discussion on the drought situation. All officials have been asked to attend the meeting which would evolve a strategy to tackle drought on a war footing. Ministers will be given charge of various districts in order to coordinate the drought relief activities in the districts, he said.

The meeting also expressed satisfaction at the peaceful manner in which the elections to the District Cooperative Banks were held. The boycott of the elections in Kannur and Kasargod by the LDF was nothing but vain attempt to concede defeat. With regard to the fixing of fair value of land, the UDF directed the Civil Supplies Minister to expedite the report of district collectors on the various shortcomings in the fair value of land announced by the Government. This should be completed by February 28. Once the report is available, the UDF would take a political decision on this, he added.

With regard to the nominations of the representatives of various constituents to the boards and corporations, Mr. Thankachan admitted that some of the Ministers had failed to carry out the coalition leadership’s directions to complete the process at the earliest.

Some Ministers had ignored the sharing formula and had appointed their own party men, he said. This would be sorted out by March 31.

The Pariyaram Medical College takeover was also hanging fire and it had been decided to appoint a special team to complete the process of identifying the bogus members in the cooperative society management that runs the college by March 31.

Nelliampathy

With regard to the Nelliampathy issue, the UDF convener said that the Chief Minister had been asked to ensure that no action would be taken with regard to the status of the land holding till the UDF high-power committee discussed the report of the subcommittee concerned. Some of the UDF leaders expressed concern at the harassment that genuine farmers faced at the hands of forest officials, sources said.

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