Thiruvananthapuram: The hunger strike by two MLAs of the United Democratic Front against what they called the LDF government's favourable attitude towards the private self financing medical colleges entered the fifth day on Sunday amid reports that Congress MLA V. T. Balram has come forward to join the strike in place of Kerala Congress (J) member Anoop Jacob who has been hospitalised after three days. At present, Congress MLAs Shafi Parambil and Hibi Eden are continuing with their protest fast.
The UDF MLAs were euphoric in the morning when reports came saying Administrative Reforms Committee chairman V. S. Achuthnandan had told mediapersons in front of secretariat when he came down to inaugurate the protest by bank employees that the attitude of the Left government on the self financing college protest is not right. He had demanded that the government hold talks with the protestors.
But by evening, Mr Achuthanandan clarified that he was referring to the agitation by bank employees against the merger of SBT into SBI. The UDF camp, however, feels that the damage has already been done and it was the pressure from the Left camp that led Mr Achuthanandan into changing his earlier controversial statement. The UDF leadership is meeting on Monday at 11:30 am and has called for a meeting of the feeder organisations especially youth organisations to take further action to intensify the protest against the LDF government on the fee structure agreed between the government and the managements of self-financing medical colleges.
At the same time, the KSU is organising a state-wide education bandh on Monday in support of the indefinite fast. Meanwhile, Mr Balram who expressed interest in being part of the indefinite fast told reporters that Mr Achuthanandan's comments against the government was an indication that the agreement between the government and the managements lacked moral strength. “Mr Achuthanandan’s statement highlights that fact that that the government's attitude is wrong,” he said. “This actually shows that the protest by UDF MLAs is right.”
Mr Balram maintained that Mr Achuthanandan has always stood in favour of peoples' protest and alleged that the Pariyaram medical college which is governed by the CPM is going to benefit most from the new agreement. "This has already not gone down well with the CPM leaders themselves,” he said. “The UDF's demand from day one is that the inflated fee structure has to be reduced. All the Congress MLAs are willing to take part in the indefinite fast."
VS Achuthanandan denies SF statement, alleges misreporting
Senior CPM leader and Administrative Reforms Commission chairman V.S. Achuthanandan has clarified that his demand that the government take early steps to end the agitation was related to the issues related to the merger of SBT to SBI and not on the UDF stir against the agreement between the government and the self-financing medical colleges.
“My statement was that the government should take the initiative to hold discussions to solve the issue related to the SBI-SBT merger,” Mr Achuthanandan said in the evening. His clarification came after the media reported that Mr. Achuthanandan had criticised the LDF government’s stand on the indefinite fast of UDF MLAs over the hike in fees in self-financing medical colleges. He said the media had misreported his statement.
“There was an attempt to create an impression that there was serious difference of opinion between the government and me on the self-finance colleges’ issue,” he said in a statement. “This is aimed at maligning the government and me. People have reacted without verifying what I said he said.”
Mr Achuthanadan’s reported remarks earlier in the day had created a huge embarrassment to the LDF with CPM leaders choosing to criticise him. Industries minister E. P. Jayarajan slammed the veteran leader saying no one who understood the matter would have responded in such a manner while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan refused to comment.
Mr Jayarajan said the government stand was correct and the UDF agitation was to support the loot of the managements. DYFI national president M. B. Rajesh, MP, said he was not aware of the context in which Mr Achuthanandan made the comment. "Whatever be the context it would not rejuvenate the UDF agitation which is going to die a natural death," Mr Rajesh said....