Chandy is the third minister of the Pinarayi Vijayan government to resign since the LDF government was formed in May 2016.
Kerala’s Left and Democratic Front government led by top CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan hasn’t covered itself in glory over the resignation of transport minister Thomas Chandy, a nominee of the Nationalist Congress Party, after Mr Chandy’s petition against the Kerala government was dismissed. Mr Chandy was accused by the collector of Alappuzha district, the centre of Kerala’s backwaters tourism, of having encroached upon paddy lands and filling up the famous backwaters for extension of his tourism and hotel businesses. Mr Chandy challenged this in the Kerala high court, which threw out his petition with strong words.
This should have been enough for the minister to resign his Cabinet position. In the event he did not, chief minister Vijayan should have asked for his resignation. But neither of these things happened. In fact, quite brazenly, Mr Chandy attended a meeting of the Cabinet after the high court order, and the CM allowed him to do so.
What eventually forced Mr Chandy’s departure was the decision by four CPI Cabinet ministers to stop attending its meetings until the resignation of the transport minister was secured. The CPI is the largest group in the LDF coalition after the CPI(M).
Mr Chandy is the third minister of the Pinarayi Vijayan government to resign since the LDF government was formed in May 2016. All the three have had to go on unsavoury grounds, including corruption and sleaze. This is a sorry state of affairs when the leadership is in the hands of the Communists, who have traditionally provided largely corruption-free governments, whatever their other faults.
The Chandy case has been in the public domain for three months but the CM doggedly stuck by his minister, throwing calls of propriety to the winds. A democratic order does not run only on the basis of rules and regulations being operated by the political majority. It needs a strong sense of ethics and propriety in the ruling establishment in the absence of which it begins to resemble a tyrannical autocracy, in which the rights and privileges of ordinary citizens are disregarded.
Chief minister Vijayan was expected to be proactive on the count of ethics as he himself had been a subject of investigation when his senior party leader Kodieyari Balakrishnan, who has an impeccable record for probity in a long and distinguished public life, was chief minister. But he has not risen to the occasion.
With three ministers having to resign within a year and a half, the record hardly looks nice. Perhaps the CPI(M’s top leadership should consider the question if it’s time to rethink the leadership question for the Kerala government if it is to be on a good wicket in the next Assembly election.