Special Correspondent

Baby misleading the House, alleges Oommen Chandy

Fax message reached panel on June 23, not on June 14Government counsel did not attend hearing on June 20Chandy alleges `inconsistencies' in Baby's statementBaby offers to place all records in the Assembly

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition on Tuesday walked out of the State Assembly alleging that Education Minister M. A. Baby had misled the House with his statement on how the State had failed to block the attempt of certain self-financing professional colleges to gain minority status.

This issue had been simmering in the House for the last couple of days. The Opposition brought it up yet again on Tuesday by raising a point of order on Mr. Baby's statement on the subject earlier in the House.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy alleged that what Mr. Baby had said to defend himself when the issue came up in the House earlier was not in conformity with the facts of the case.

He said Mr. Baby had claimed that the Government had sent a fax message on June 14 to the National Commission for Minority Education seeking a postponement of the hearing posted by the commission on June 20 to take up the applications of certain institutions seeking minority status. However, the commission had clarified that it had received the message only on June 23. And the Government counsel kept away from the hearing.

Mr. Baby countered the Opposition charge by reiterating his claim that the fax message was sent on June 14. He also repeated the promise he had made in the House on Monday that he would place the record relating to the despatch of the message on the table of the House. He said he would inquire why the Government was not represented by its counsel at the commission's hearing.

Mr. Chandy also tried to corner Mr. Baby by pointing out certain `inconsistencies' in his earlier statement in the House. Mr. Baby had said that when he met the member of the National Commission for Minority Education Valson Thampu earlier this month, he did not raise the State's demand for a postponement of the commission's hearing since the matter was discussed at the official level.

Mr. Chandy said Mr. Baby's meeting with Mr. Valson Thampu had happened six days prior to the referred to meeting between the State Government's official and the secretary of the commission. Replying to the charge that he was thus "misleading the House on this point also," Mr. Baby said he had not meant that his meeting with Mr. Valson Thampu had taken place after the official-level meeting.

Not satisfied with the Education Minister's clarification, Mr. Chandy paraded his colleagues in the Opposition out of the House, alleging that the Government was "messing up the affairs in the education sector in such a way as to endanger the future of thousands of students waiting to join the professional colleges."

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