KOTTAYAM: Finance Minister K M Mani’s prospects of becoming a Chief Minister with the support of LDF seems to have received an unexpected checkmate with the Revenue Department’s decision to implement a liberal title deeds package for the settler farmers in Idukki district. Though, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said that the new initiative was not in response to pressure tactics from any quarters, but part of the UDF Government’s commitment to the settler farmer community, political analysts are of the opinion that it has more or less scuttled the political reckoning of Mani to take the advantage of settler farmer politics to march towards the Chief Minister’s chair.
While many in the Kerala Congress (M) believe it to be a planned move by the Congress, presumably with the knowledge of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, to block Mani from joining hands with LDF, the announcement has put the ball back to Mani’s court as well. According to Prakash, the Revenue Department has brought in place amendments in Kerala Land Assignment (KLA) Act, 1960, not only to ensure transfer rights but also to increase the ceiling on the area of land to four acres, and forwarded the file to the Law Department, a portfolio of K M Mani. Now, Mani has to give his approval for the decision. “The communication here is clear that they (Congress) have cleared the track and are awaiting Mani’s decision. Moreover, it is a clear move to scuttle the talks with LDF by lessening the gravity of a public cause like the pattayam issue,” a KC(M) leader said.
“Adoor Prakash pointed out that the confinement of the area for title deeds to one acre in the hilly tracts and 50 cents in other areas with the hold-up period of three years for transfer, was put in place in 2005. Interestingly, K M Mani was the Revenue Minister then, which implies that a Congress minister has come forth to lift the restrictions made by Mani. Moreover, there’s a rampant talk in Idukki that the governments in power before 2005 had plans to accord pattayams up to four acres of land, which was cut short to one acre by Mani,” a political analyst said.