Attempts by the Opposition to corner the government on the floor of the Assembly by trying to play up the row between Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar and Chief Whip P C George failed to give the desired result, with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy coming out in support of them.
Raising a point of order at the end of Zero Hour, Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan demanded an explanation on who among the two was right on the question of a UDF subcommittee formed on Nelliampathy, which had become the bone of contention between George and Ganesh on Tuesday.
He raised suspicion over the interest shown by George in taking up the cause of the estate owners, saying that the latter were known for their skills to exert influence through any means. A K Balan also rose with another point that the Forest Minister had replied to an unstarred question on January 17, 2012 that P C George had urged to stop the takeover proceedings of Cherunelli Estate.
Opposition deputy leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan went a step further and observed that the rift between the Minister and the Chief Whip, who is having ministerial status, had raised a Constitutional issue, for it reflected the lack of collective responsibility of the government. Either George or Ganesh should be sacked,’’ he demanded.
Law Minister K M Mani countered it and said that George was not part of the cabinet and had only ministerial status.
While both Ganesh and George remained silent, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said what both of them said was true.
“There is a UDF sub-committee on Nelliampathy, which George had mentioned. But Minister Ganesh Kumar had not attended the UDF meet which took the decision to form the committee. Hence, his stance that he had come to know about it from newspapers is also true. The committee has not met even once. The views of the Minister were not sought by the committee,’’ Chandy said.
He also defended George and said that he had every right to submit a memorandum to a Minister. ‘’He had raised the issue of farmers while Chenthamarakshan (CPM) tried to raise the woes of workers in the estate. Can one find anything wrong in both things,’’ he asked. He also said that the Opposition needn’t nurture any hope to foment trouble in the UDF. ‘’It is true that there were differences of opinion on the Nelliampathy issue. The current issue is an internal matter of the UDF. We’re capable of resolving it amicably,’’ Chandy said.
On the basis of the explanation, Speaker G Karthikeyan ruled that the point of order was not sustainable.