L’affaire Thomas Chandy that reared its ugly head in August and continues to create ripples, about the minister’s Lake Palace Resort encroaching upon the Punnamada lake in Alappuzha, breached yet another boiling point on Tuesday. After a spate of political volleys that forced the administration to crack down on the state transport minister, it was the turn of the Kerala High Court to come down like a tonne of bricks on the errant minister.
The Division Bench dismissed Chandy’s petition challenging the Alappuzha district collector’s report. The judges found the minister moving court against the state government to be a violation of the collective responsibility of the Cabinet and therefore against the Constitution.
In two sessions, on either side of the lunch break, the judges made a number of damning observations about the minister. From asking him to step down from his ivory tower to asking if he had lost trust in the CM and the government in which he is also a minister, the list was long and embarrassing. Chandy was asked why he was shying away from the district collector’s report and to prove his innocence if he was not the owner of the disputed land.
Despite this furore, the chief minister has said a decision will be taken when the time is ripe—not quite in character when one recalls the alacrity with which he first let go his second-in-command E P Jayarajan and A K Saseendran, Chandy’s party-mate from the NCP.
It surely does not help the anti-corruption crusader image the CM wears on his sleeve when Chandy gets preferential treatment. There was once a Kayal (lake) Raja, Murikkummoottil Thommen Joseph, who created history worth emulating in the 1930s by converting about 2,000 acres of a lake into the cultivable paddy fields of Kuttanad. It’s indeed a travesty of justice for this sobriquet to be associated with one whose claim to fame for posterity would be the illegal occupation of the Punnamada lake.