Special correspondent

Kozhikode: KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala has said that the Merchiston estate scandal has considerably damaged the credibility of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and reiterated the decision of the United Democratic Front (UDF) to intensify its agitation for the resignation of Forest Minister Benoy Viswom, and a probe, either by CBI or a judicial commission, into the land deal. “If the government has nothing to hide in this case, why is it afraid of ordering an impartial probe?” Mr. Chennithala asked at a press conference in Kozhikode on Saturday.

He also remarked that the government had ordered a vigilance probe into the scandal for the sole purpose of averting the embarrassment that it would face if the court ordered an inquiry into the land deal. “Chief Minister has succumbed to pressure from CPI leader Veliyam Bharghavan not to order a CBI probe or a judicial inquiry,” the KPCC chief alleged.

At the press conference, Mr. Chennithala expressed fears that if the “irregularities” in the land deal for Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology were not exposed through a probe the “land mafia at work in our State” would feel emboldened to swallow up all the government land that had been given on lease.

Asked why Congress itself was not initiating a CBI probe making use of its clout as the main party in power at the Centre, Mr. Ramesh Chennithala said CBI took up only those cases that were recommended by State governments for investigation.

It was within the power of the CBI to initiate an investigation, but the Central government could not ask CBI to start investigations “since it does not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the investigative agency.”

Against cluster training

Thiruvananthapuram Special Correspondent writes:

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala has cautioned Education Minister M.A. Baby against handling the cluster training programme issue politically. In a statement here on Saturday, he said that some school teachers had complaints about the way the programme was being organised. But instead of solving them, the authorities were trying to make the teachers fall in line through political threats and departmental action. By doing so, they were also dividing the teachers into two groups.

He said Saturday and Sunday were not working days as per the Kerala Education Rules. It was improper on the part of the Government to decide unilaterally to organise the training programme on those two holidays. When the teachers organised a boycott against it, the pro-CPI(M) teachers’ organisation and the DYFI were being used to make them fall in line.