Kerala Transport Minister Thomas Chandy Resigns Over Encroachment Charges

Kerela Transport Minister, Thomas Chandy. Credit: Youtube

Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy. Credit: Youtube

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy, who is facing encroachment allegations, today resigned from the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan.

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 a stake.

This is the third minister in the Vijayan cabinet to resign after the LDF government came to power in May 2016. Earlier, A.K. Saseendran of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had resigned after an audio clip of him speaking to a woman went viral and E.P. Jayarajan of the CPI(M) quit on nepotism charges.

Chandy, a three-time MLA of the NCP, had been inducted into the cabinet eight months ago following the resignation of Saseendran. NCP had only two MLAs. The resignation letter was handed over to the chief minister by NCP state president T.P. Peethambaran Master, after consulting on the matter with the party’s national leadership.

Chandy, who left for Alappuzha, after attending the cabinet meeting, told a Malayalam television channel that even though the chief minister did not seek his resignation and there were no circumstances for the same, a coalition partner (the CPI) took the “adamant” stand made the chief minister to ask him to “rethink”.

“The chief minister said we are not asking you to resign, but take a decision after consulting with your leadership,” Chandy said.

Earlier, talking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Vijayan said the issue had been left to the NCP’s national leadership. A businessman-turned-politician, Chandy, had been facing heat since the past few days as allegations surfaced that his company had violated rules to construct a parking area and a road through a paddy field to his Lake Palace resort in Alappuzha district.

Alappuzha district collector T.V. Anupama had in her report to the state government stated that large-scale violations of the Kerala Land Conservation Act and Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act had been committed by the resort.

The Kerala high court had observed that it was “extremely improper” for a minister to file a petition against his own government. There was a violation of the collective cabinet responsibility by the minister, it had held. Opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP had been on the warpath for the pas month demanding Chandy’s resignation over the encroachment allegations.