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CPM, CPI confront on coalition dharma

Published Nov 17, 2017, 1:21 am IST
Updated Nov 17, 2017, 1:21 am IST
Thomas Chandy leaves big brothers CPM and CPI fight over talks behind the scene on his exit.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
 Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram: CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the CPI decision to stay away from Cabinet was immature. At a press conference here, Kodiyeri said the decision was unprecedented and should not have happened. “It is for the CPI leadership to think whether such a stand was required in a coalition set up,” he said. He said the LDF constituents may have differences on many issues but they have always worked united. Serious differences are sorted out through bilateral talks. “When Chandy issue came up, the LDF state committee entrusted the Chief Minister to take a decision. The CPI boycott of Cabinet came when CM was in the process of implementing LDF decision. After the High Court rejected Chandy's petition on November 14, the chief minister intervened and asked the NCP state president and minister to meet him. Since they were in Ernakulam, the meeting was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Chandy who planned to go to Delhi cancelled his trip and came to Thiruvananthapuram.  At the Cliff House meeting, the CM told them that resignation was the only option left. The NCP leaders sought time to discuss with national leadership and come back at 10.30 am.  After almost ensuring that the resignation would happen very soon, the Cabinet meeting began at 9 am. At that time CPI send a note to chief minister saying that if Chandy attended the meeting they would keep off Cabinet," Kodiyeri  recollected. He said had the CPI conveyed this stand directly to the Chief Minister or the front leadership, it would have given an opportunity to take a political decision. However, they took an immature decision of boycotting the Cabinet and shutting all doors on political decision or discussion.


"If someone suspects that CPI kept away from Cabinet to claim credit as it knew that the resignation would happen soon, then you cannot blame them.  This is against coalition dharma. As part of the government, there will be applause and criticism. Taking a stand that you will have applause and others should bear all criticism was against the idea of coalition setup.” Kodiyeri said the allegations against Chandy pertained to issues that happened much before he became minister. The LDF stand was to examine all the legal aspects of the allegations before taking any action. The revenue department had also entrusted the collector to examine the area and file a report.


Since collector's report had raised certain legal issues, the Chief Minister had sought legal opinion from AG. While the CM was in the process of examining the legal opinion the other developments took place. Since there were contradictions in the reports filed by the former collector in 2014 and the incumbent collector on October 20, 2017 on the allegations against Chandy and his resort, there was a need to examine the issue in depth. The time taken by AG for examining the issue was only normal. Even in Solar Commission report which was received by the government in September, the government order came only in November after detailed legal scrutiny.


Kodiyeri said the LDF was constituted in 1980 and till today it has faced many challenges.  "The opposition is trying to weaken the front in the name of present developments. The LDF should guard against such attempts," he said. The CPM state secretary said the CPI leadership or Kanam had not conveyed their decision to stay out of Cabinet if Chandy attended the meeting on Tuesday.

No, we were not: CPI

CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said it was with full knowledge that the decision was unprecedented that the party decided to keep its four ministers out of Cabinet meeting. He said the unprecedented circumstances had forced the CPI to take the unparalleled decision. However, the decision took the issue to its logical conclusion. Kanam said the HC verdict and the adverse remarks had put a big question mark over Chandy’s continuation in Cabinet.  The court had even stated that the petition filed against the government and chief secretary was unconstitutional and immature.


“One does not have to wait till court’s final verdict to realise that the petition filed by the minister against the government was a challenge to the collective responsibility of the Cabinet,” he said.  “The LDF had gained wider acceptability among people because it was  against previous UDF government’s corruption, nepotism, misuse of power and loss of values. Under these circumstances it was quite natural for them to expect propriety in public and political life from LDF leaders, transparency and vigilance against social evils,” the CPI leader said. He said though the revenue minister could have taken further action against Chandy based on collector’s report, he didn’t resort to any action which could have destroyed collective responsibility of Cabinet


CPI waited patiently for AG’s legal opinion and petition filed by Thomas Chandy in high court  and all other legal possibilities in the case. The party maintained highest form of coalition dharma in the face of grave challenge posed in public and even baseless allegations against party general secretary Sudhakar Reddy.
CPI  assistant secretary K Prakash Babu dealt a riposte to CPM State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Thursday, saying Chief Minister Pinarayi never took Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan into confidence on the Advocate-General’s opinion about contradictions in reports submitted by Alappuzha Collectors in 2014 and 2017 on alleged violations by Mr Thomas Chandy.      


He was talking to reporters after CPM State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s press conference at which he accused the CPI of many things, especially weakening the LDF and strengthening the Opposition UDF. The CPI came know from Mr Balakrishnan’s press conference that the CM referred for legal opinion the “contradictory” reports. But the Revenue Minister had taken the CM into confidence on Collector’s (T V Anupama) report and also expressed his opinion. Shouldn’t the CM have informed the Revenue Minister the opinion he had received from the AG, asked Mr Babu.


He said his party did not want to take the credit for Mr Thomas Chandy’s resignation, rather anyone could take that. He was reacting to Mr Balakrishnan’s charge that the CPI ministers had kept off the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to claim credit for Mr Chandy’s exit. The CPI only wanted Mr Chandy, who had encroached on the lake, to go. “Nobody had informed the CPI leadership or the legislature party leaders that Mr Chandy would resign on Wednesday. The CPI position was that its ministers could not attend the Cabinet along with Mr Chandy, who had breached the Constitution and sued the ministry of which he was a member.  


Mr Chandrasekharan informed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in writing that the CPI ministers would not attend the Cabinet after Mr Chandy sounded a challenge after talks with the CM and turned up  for the Cabinet. Nobody had informed the party of the outcome of the talks between the CM and NCP even at the late hour.” Only from Mr Balakrishnan’s disclosure to the media did the CPI realise the minister’s resignation had been planned for Wednesday morning, he said. 

Location: India, Kerala