Muslim League ‘hijacks’ Govt; protest growing in Kerala
Protest is growing in Kerala against the alleged “hijacking” of the Congress-led UDF Government by the Muslim League, especially with respect to the affairs in the Ministry of Education which a Minister of that party is looking after. The Muslim League is the second largest constituent of the ruling coalition.
In the Assembly on Wednesday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy revised a statement he made the previous day, allegedly under Muslim League pressure, to agree with its proposal to include 35 schools in Muslim-majority Malappuram district in the aided sector. He himself had said in the Assembly on Tuesday that no decision had been taken in this regard.
The somersault of the Chief Minister has irked the CPI(M)-led Opposition LDF as well as the majority community outfits. It prompted Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan to ask, “How many chief ministers does Kerala have?” while Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of Hindu Ezhavas’ outfit SNDP Yogam, said the League was plundering public resources.
G Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of the NSS, outfit of the Hindu Nair community, said “at this rate”, the Chief Minister’s office and the State Secretariat would have to be transplanted to Malappuram, known as the stronghold of the Muslim League.
Before leading the Opposition in a walkout from the Assembly in protest against the proposal and the Chief Minister’s somersault on Wednesday, Achuthanandan said the Muslim League was aiming to allot the schools to party-related managements through a huge corruption move. Even the State’s Congress unit and its students’ wing have aired open protests against the move.
This is the second controversy the Congress-led Government in Kerala has fallen into in the past two months. The new issue has come up even before the dust stirred up by the controversy over the allotment in April of a fifth Cabinet position to the Muslim League by tilting the community balance in the Government and enraging the majority communities has settled.
After a meeting of the State Cabinet on June 13, Chandy had told newsmen that the Government had decided to bring 35 schools in Malappuram district under its ownership. This decision was published in the Chief Minister’s official website also. The schools were started in 1990-91 under the Centre’s Area-Intensive Programme.
However, Muslim League’s Education Minister PK Abdu Rabb said in the Assembly on Tuesday that the Government had decided to include these schools in the aided sector. But, in his clarification, Chandy had said no final decision had been taken and it was up to him to take that decision as Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister revised this statement on Wednesday in the Assembly itself saying that the Government had already taken an in-principle decision to hand over the schools to the aided sector. He said the proposal was currently in the consideration of the Finance Department and that the UDF would discuss the matter if need be.
The Chief Minister’s statement brought the Opposition members to their feet and Achuthanandan said that Chandy revised his stand by bowing to the Muslim League’s pressure. “How many chief ministers does Kerala have? Is it that there is one for the Congress and another for the Muslim League?” he asked before announcing the decision for walkout.
Achuthanandan demanded expulsion of Abdu Rabb from the Cabinet, saying that he had derailed the Cabinet decision for the sake of corruption. Demanding a satisfactory explanation from Chandy (which he could not offer), the Opposition leader said the Government should cancel the decision to hand over the schools to the aided sector.
This is not the first time Abdu Rabb had invited the wrath of the majority communities. He was attacked last month for rechristening his residence Ganga in Thiruvananthapuram as Grace and for stating that it was a policy of the Muslim League not to light the traditional lamp (Nilavilakku, often associated with Hindu rituals) at public programmes.
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Did You Know?
43% of Kerala's 31 million people are Muslims and Christians. Christian form 19% and Muslims 23.7%. Ernakulam district has the highest percentage of Christians in India, while Malappuram district has the second largest Muslim population in the country after Murshidabad in West Bengal. During the past 120 years, there is decrease by 12% in religions originated in India whereas the Muslim population increased by 10% and Christians by 1.3 % during this period.