Thiruvananthapuram: People of Kerala were celebrating Onam, a nostalgic festival, in a complete holiday mood. But the government of Kerala, which spent millions of rupees on conducting various cultural programmes in the state capital and district headquarters for the celebrations, was not in a festive mood. When the cultural venues turned vibrant with folk arts, musical programmes and dance forms, the chief minister’s office was pondering how it could hammer out the political problems they face.
The resignation of Mr. P.J. Joseph, state minister for public works, was the flash news which disturbed the atmosphere. It was the last chapter of an allegation of sexual harassment and the first chapter of political conundrum. The allegation against the minister and his exit were a setback to the new government which is celebrating its hundreds days in office.
The minister submitted his resignation to the chief minister following the police finding that there was a prima facie case against him regarding the harassment charge by a Chennai-based Malayali woman.
Mr. V.S. Achutanandan, a champion of woman’s rights, was firm after getting the investigation report from the woman IPS officer, who was deputed by him to probe into and submit report within 10 days when the allegation was made. The police Inspector General who investigated the matter said in unequivocal terms in her report that what the woman said was correct. But Mr. Joseph tried to give the chief minister and the media persons graphic details of what had happened aboard the King Fisher flight from Chennai to Kochi on August 3 and pleaded his innocence and argued for a judicial enquiry.
A section of the CPM leaders tried to protect the minister in order to tarnish the image of the chief minister. But he was firm and managed to sort out the issue by showing the door to his cabinet colleague.
The parliamentary party meeting of the Joseph’s party decided to propose Mr. T.U. Kuruvila to succeed him, but his track record is also not so good. Joseph’s misfortune started with the corruption charge in Federation of Indian Floriculturists and ended in the allegation of sexual harassment. Joseph is the fourth minister who resigned after allegation of sexual harassment in the political history of Kerala.
The tug of war between the government and the self-financed college managements entered into a new brawl since the Supreme Court direction to allow the managements to admit their own candidates to 50% of the seats and the government committee found the common entrance test conducted by the Managements Association was irregular. The government enacted a new law to clip the capitation fee and maintain community reservation.
Now the Justice Mohammed committee, constituted by the state government to monitor the functioning of the private colleges has submitted its report to the government before the Supreme Court deadline. The conclusion of the committee would have far reaching consequences as the government seeks powers to counter-check the managements after the setback faced at the court. The Justice Mohammed committee however didn’t elaborate whether it wanted the entrance test conducted by the Managements Association to be cancelled. They recommended the government to take appropriate steps to finalise the admission procedure for this academic year expeditiously in the best interest of the students.
Now the government is in the hot water to protect their policy in the tense situation. Hectic parleys are going on to find a window to come out of the imbroglio.
Tail End: Yes, the government is in hot water but drunkards were in full water as they drank liquor worth Rupees 98.07 crores on the Onam days. The liquor sale is a record for governments Beverages Corporation. Last year the sale amounted to Rupees 83.86 crores.