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Monday, May 20, 2024

Congress-Led UDF In A Confrontation Mood With Govt In Kerala

Political mercury soared when the Government announced a crime branch probe against Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, K. Sudhakaran, who is the second accused in a cheating case involving Monsoon Mavunkal, alleged fake antique dealer and a child-abuse convict.

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By: P. Sreekumaran

With the Opposition parties in the State upping the ante and the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government launching a counter-offensive, the state is set for a protracted political slug-fest.

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Political mercury soared when the Government announced a crime branch probe against Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, K. Sudhakaran, who is the second accused in a cheating case involving Monsoon Mavunkal, alleged fake antique dealer and a child-abuse convict.

Sudhakaran has, however, accused the government of launching a conspiracy to turn the child abuse case victim against him. The court records revealed no case against him, Sudhakaran said, adding that this has been confirmed by the Crime Branch.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court has granted interim anticipatory bail to Sudhakaran, and has directed him to appear before the Crime Branch on June 23. Justice AA Ziyad Rahman has also ruled that in the event of his arrest, Sudhakaran should be released on the execution of a bond of Rs 50,000 with two solvent sureties of the same amount. The KPCC chief has also been asked to cooperate with the investigation and refrain from attempting to intimidate or influence the witnesses. The court order, passed on June 21, would remain in effect for two weeks. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 30.

The Congress upped the ante by deciding to hold protests in all the 140 assembly constituencies against what the party described as the Government’s “vendetta politics”. Leader of the opposition V D Satheesan, who is also facing a crime branch probe, accused CPI(M) supporters in the Police Department of acting against the KPCC chief. Satheesan said the CPI(M)’s ‘flunkies” in the Police department spitefully implicated Sudhakaran in Monson’s financial dealings.

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Meanwhile, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan made a sensational statement that Sudhakaran was present in Monson’s house when the child was abused. Govindan based his statement on a report carried by party newspaper “Deshabhimani”. Sudhakaran, in a retaliatory move, threatened to file a defamation case against Govindan.

The Opposition parties have also tried to push the LDF on the defensive by making allegations of academic fraud and political nepotism against the Students Federation of India(SFI), CPI(M)’s student wing. The CPI(M), however, countered the allegation by having former SFI leader K Vidya, who has been accused of having submitted a fabricated experience certificate to secure employment as a guest lecturer in a government college in Palakkadd, arrested. The CPI(M) also expelled Nikhil Thomas, an SFI leader accused of submitting a phoney degree certificate for gaining admission to a post-graduate course in MSM College , Kayamkulam.

The embattled CPI(M) and the Government scored a significant victory when the Kerala High Court overturned a single judge order that directed the Kannur University to reassess the credentials of Priya Varghese, wife of Chief Minister’s private secretary, KK Ragesh, to be appointed as an associate professor. The bench also invalidated the single judge’s conclusion that Priya lacked the teaching experience required to be included in the rank list for the Malayalam associate professor’s post in the Kannur University. Now that the judgment has come, the Varsity can proceed with the provisional rank list where Priya figured in the top spot.

The court order also administered a severe snub to the anti-left media for causing harm to Priya’s dignity and reputation by making unjustified comments. The HC hoped that the media would adopt a code of responsible journalistic conduct to report news. The Division Bench comprising Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Muhammed Nias CP made this observation while taking note of the media attention Priya’s case received while it was being adjudicated before the single judge. The court also directed the print and electronic media to exercise restraint by deferring discussions on matters pending before the court so that the rule of law can be better served by avoiding obstruction of justice.

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Buoyed by the court verdict, CPI(M)’s central committee member A K Balan said the CPI(M) would not tolerate members who turned malefactors. Such people would have no place in the party, Balan said, showering praise on the SFI for promptly expelling the wrong-doers from its ranks. Balan also voiced the Government’s determination to eradicate the fake education certificate menace. Balan also lashed out at the media for ignoring the elephant in the room and chasing “squirrels.” To illustrate the point, he said the media has nothing to say about the extremely serious situation in Manipur which is burning.

In the ultimate analysis, it would seem that the efforts of the Congress to avert attention from the acute factionalism plaguing the party have failed. The Congress, it may be mentioned, had hogged the headlines for the internecine groupism over the party’s reorganization. The recrudescence of factionalism has considerably weakened the party’s drive to ensure unity in the party. This bodes ill for the party and the party-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state, which are desperate to stage a comeback in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. (IPA Service)

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