Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy quits, but will he be taken back if 'cleared' of land encroachment charges?
The resignation comes a day after the Kerala High Court dismissed Chandy's petition challenging a report of the Alappuzha district collector on alleged encroachments by a company in which he has stake
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ending days of speculation, Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy, who has been mired in a land grab controversy, quit from the Kerala cabinet on Wednesday, becoming the third minister in the 18-month-old Pinarayi government to lose his job.
The decision finally came after the leadership of his party, the NCP, consulted its central leadership. The party’s state president T P Peethambaran handed over Chandy’s resignation letter to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the latter’s office at around 12.50 pm Wednesday.
Thomas Chandy, instead of meeting the chief minister himself, left for Kuttanad, his constituency.
A few hours earlier, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had told a post-cabinet briefing that a decision on Thomas Chandy’s continuation in the ministry was expected as Chandy had sought time to discuss the matter with the NCP central leadership.
''When they make such a request I cannot reject it. They said the meeting would be held at 10.30 am today and that they would inform me after that,'' Vijayan had said.
The chief minister also added the matter was not discussed at the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Four ministers belonging to the CPI -- E Chandrashekaran, V S Sunil Kumar, P Thilothaman and K Raju -- boycotted the cabinet meeting as per the decision of its leadership. Their decision to keep away was described as ''extraordinary'' by the chief minister. ''It was something that should not have happened,'' he said.
On Tuesday, the High Court had dismissed Thomas Chandy’s petition and criticised in strong words his decision to approach the court against the government.
The NCP is also learnt to have asked the chief minister to facilitate Chandy’s return to the cabinet if he is cleared of charges in the land grab case.
Earlier in the morning, CPI, the second biggest party in the Left Democratic Front coalition had toughened its stance on the issue by keeping away from the weekly cabinet meeting, a first of its kind protest for the Pinarayi government.
On Tuesday, Thomas Chandy had made clear that he would step down if there were adverse remarks in the High Court. He also expressed his willingness to stay away if chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan asks him to do so. The NCP state meeting on Tuesday was also in favour of the minister stepping down in the wake of the High Court remarks.
However, the party had left the decision to its national leadership.