THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Yet another political storm seems to be hovering over the chilly hills of Munnar. The CPI(M)-led Left government in Kerala has been witnessing another rift within the government over the contentious Munnar eviction drive.
Munnar has always been a bone of contention between Kerala’s two Left parties in power.
A high-level meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, ignoring the opposition from Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, to discuss the eviction drive has deepened the rift. Chandrasekharan stayed away from the meeting called on Saturday.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran openly reminded the chief minister that the government is not of the CPI(M) alone. An agitated CPI is also planning to raise the issue before the Left Democratic Front.
Convening a meeting over 22 cents land in Munnar Town—identified as encroached area by the district administration—hasn’t gone down well with the CPI.
“The meeting was called over 22 cents of encroached land in Munnar town. It’s as good as supporting encroachers. The government is calling an official meeting to give clearance for an illegal action. How can it be justified?” asked a senior CPI leader. With the revenue minister staying away from the meeting, questions have been raised on the government’s collective responsibility.
The issue has also brought out the rift within the CPI over the issue. The delegation that met the CM on June 13 seeking to call an all-party meet comprised senior CPI leader C A Kurian. The memorandum was signed by four CPI leaders. The CPI executive criticised these leaders and sought an explanation from them. In addition, Chandrasekharan too expressed some discontent. He said what the party secretary termed was his opinion alone.
However, CPI Idukki district secretary K Sivaraman said the chief minister was misled in the matter. “There’s propaganda in Idukki that conditional lease holders would be evicted, and the delegation has demanded a meeting to discuss this issue. The government has already made clear that those on the conditional lease will not be evicted. Hence, there’s no relevance for such a meeting,” he pointed out.
Soon after the CPI state chief made the party’s stance clear, CPI(M)’s Devikulam MLA S Rajendran, who has been leading the fight against the eviction drive, made it categorically clear that the stance taken by the revenue minister and CPI secretary cannot be accepted. Asking them to correct their stance, Rajendran also warned of public agitation.
Meanwhile, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office denied the CPI’s allegations. They said the decision to call the July 1 meeting was taken after proper consultations with the revenue minister.