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Patriotism should not result in ‘blinkered’ approaches in interpreting history: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lamenting the “unfortunate tendency” to take umbrage at the expression of any view considered hostile, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the “freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute” must be protected.Mukherjee also said patriotism should not result in “blinkered” approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.Asserting that the greatest strength of India is its pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic diversity, he said the country’s traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.” The President made the remarks after inaugurating the 77th session of the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.There has been an “unfortunate tendency” in the country from time-to-time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions past or present, Mukherjee said.Similarly, critical appraisals of heroes and national icons of the past have been met with hostility or sometimes even violence, he pointed out. “Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of democracy. Nothing should lie outside realm of discussion and argument and such freedom is vital for the progress in any field especially in a craft like history,” he said.In his address, the President asked historians to be as objective as possible in their approach to history.Advocating that reason and moderation should be the guide, Mukherjee said, “It is natural to love one’s country and see as much glory in its past as one can detect. But, patriotism should not result in blinkered approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.””No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past,” he said.”An objective pursuit of history, such as our best historians have attempted, requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate,” the President said.”We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions,” he said. He also said there should not be any conflict or contradiction between the promotion of regional history and the pursuit of the country’s history as a whole.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that attempts were being made by vested interests to distort history to suit the present government at the Centre.Mukherjee released the first copy of the proceedings of the Congress by presenting it to the Chief Minister.

Pinarayi Vijayan to inaugurate third edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale on Monday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in Kochi on Monday, launching the largest celebration of contemporary art in South Asia. The opening ceremony, which begins at 6.30 PM at Parade Ground in Fort Kochi, will see in attendance state Culture Minister AK Balan, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and former Minister for Culture MA Baby.Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain will also attend the function as will MLAs Hibi Eden, KJ Maxi, VK Ebrahimkunju and VD Satheesan. Cine icon Mammootty and celebrated author NS Madhavan will also be present, organisers said. Prior to the inaugural function, a ‘chenda melam’ of 150 percussionists led by Padmashree Peruvanam Kuttan Marar will welcome the dignitaries and public to the venue.Following the ceremony, there will be a concert by noted singer Suman Sridhar and The Black Mamba. KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty will outline his vision for the Biennale.

Kerala CM takes a dig at Jaitley, expresses doubts on his role in economic policies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Arun Jaitley, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday expressed doubts whether the Union Finance Minister has any “role” in determining key economic policies, like demonetization, of the BJP-led NDA government.Recalling his meeting with Jaitley to discuss the crisis in the Kerala’s cooperative banking sector in the wake of demonetization drive, Vijayan said during the conversation the finance minister could generate a feeling that the issue would be resolved very soon.”When we met him we had a feeling that the issue would be resolved very soon. Such was his response to our grievances on the state’s cooperative sector. But when we came out of the meeting, it was realised that the cooperative sector was again thrown into deep troubles,” Vijayan said, addressing a convention on Cooperative Banks in Kochi attended by leaders from CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-led UDF. Describing Jaitley as a “gentleman” who never talks unwanted things, Vijayan said during the meeting, the finance minister said everything will be solved but just opposite to his assurance had happened.The Chief Minister recalled his meeting with Jaitley at his office in New Delhi seeking bank status for Kerala’s 3,000 primary cooperatives to accept old Rs 500 and 1000 currencies towards exchange or deposit. “But when we came out of the meeting what we heard was that the Reserve Bank of India issued a new direction banning even District Central Cooperative Banks from carrying out such operations,” he said. Vijayan said Kerala had to face some unpleasant experiences from the finance minister which no other state would have experienced. “Many people who had met the finance minister on behalf of the Kerala state had such experiences from him,” he said.”It is being said that three people are taking major economic policy decisions (like demonetization). But more clarity is required to ascertain whether he (Jaitley) has any role in taking such decisions,” Vijayan said, taking a dig at the senior BJP leader holding the key portfolio in the Narendra Modi government. Vijayan described as “wrong” the BJP-led government’s decision to demonetize high value Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. “Some centres in the government took a decision (to demonetize the high valued currencies). Now it is being imposed on us,” the Chief Minister said. He said the attempt to destroy Kerala’s cooperative sector would be defeated at any cost.

M Balamurlikrishna’s death ‘irreparable loss’ to the music world: Pinarayi Vijayan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala condoled the passing away of noted Carnatic musician M Balamuralikrishna at Chennai on Tuesday. In his message, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Balamuralikrishna was ‘an incomparable personality in contemporary Carnatic music’ and his death was an ‘irreparable loss’ to the music world.Kerala also joined the nation in mourning the death of one of the great musicians of the country, he said. The state is indebted to him for bringing into the limelight the various krities of Swati Tirunal, the erstwhile Maharajah of Travancore, by including them in his concerts and making them popular, he said.Balamuralikrishna had been awarded the prestigious Swati Puraskaram, the state’s highest honour for musicians instituted by the Kerala government in 2012. He rendered songs in various languages, including Telegu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Punjabi, Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
ALSO READ Who was M Balamuralikrishna? All you need to know about the Carnatic music legendState culture minister AK Balan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, also condoled his death.

M M Mani inducted into Kerala cabinet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nearly six-month-old CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala led by Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday inducted CPI(M) secretariat member M M Mani into the cabinet. Mani was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Kerala Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam at a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram.A first time MLA, 70-year-old Mundakkal Madhavan Mani rose from humble beginnings and went on to become the undisputed leader of the trade union movement in Idukki for decades.Born at Kidangur in Kottayam district on December 12, 1944, Mani came to Idukki along with his parents. It was a struggle for the family and young Mani was forced to discontinue his studies and work as a labourer to help his family.He functioned as CPI(M)’s Idukki district secretary for over two decades. Mani’s induction in the cabinet was to fill the vacancy left by E P Jayarajan, who resigned from the cabinet following allegations of nepotism after he appointed his close relatives to top positions of state PSUs.Jayarajan was conspicuous by his absence at Tuesday’s function. Mani’s close family members and scores of people from his home district of Idukki had come to the state capital to witness the swearing in ceremony. The Marxist party had on Sunday recommended induction of Mani in the state cabinet. A popular leader, Mani was instrumental in setting up trade union movements in many plantations to enable workers get their just dues. He had stirred controversy by his ‘one, two, three’ speech in 2015 in which he publicly stated that CPI(M) had often eliminated its political foes in Idukki district in the 1980s, following which police registered a case against him for murder and other charges. Mani was arrested in November 2012 in connection with the case registered for murder of Anchery Baby, a Youth Congress leader, who was shot dead on November 13, 1982.

Demonetization: Kerala to move SC against RBI’s decision on Cooperative Banks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Government on Saturday decided to move the Supreme Court against RBI’s decision not to permit cooperative banks to participate in exchange of demonetized currency notes.The decision comes a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his cabinet colleagues, observed a seven hour long sit in dharna before the RBI office in Thiruvananthapuram, protesting the Centre’s alleged move to “destroy” the state’s cooperative sector under the cover of demonetization.Kerala Cooperation minister A C Moideen on Saturday met Presidents of cooperative banks and other officials to discuss the issue. Later, speaking to reporters, he said RBI’s action was ‘illegal’ and the state would approach the Supreme Court, challenging the decision not to allow cooperative banks to exchange currency notes. He also assured depositors that their money was safe in the cooperative banks and there was no need for any anxiety over it. The cooperative sector will make necessary arrangements for its customers to make available necessary consumer items, including food items, he said.

Blast an attempt to ruin peaceful situation in Kerala: CM Pinarayi Vijayan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after a low intensity IED went off in a parked car near a court in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said it was an effort to ruin the peaceful situation in the state and that only a comprehensive probe would clarify the reasons behind it.”It is an effort to ruin the peaceful situation in Kerala. Only a comprehensive probe will bring clarity on the reasons behind the explosion,” he said.He was replying to a notice for an adjournment motion in the Assembly, moved by the Congress-led UDF Opposition on fears triggered due to the blast.The Chief Minister said though it was an isolated incident, government viewed it very seriously and added that police would make all efforts to nab those behind the blast.Vijayan said there should not be any interpretation on the reasons for the blast. “Let the probe go on. It will be carried out by police,” he said.The CM said a special team led by Malappuram Narcotic Cell DYSP P T Balan has been entrusted with the probe.On recovery of a hand-box with the words ‘Base Movement’ on top from the site, he said “police are looking into all aspects… whether it was placed there to mislead or to give any indication or coincidence. A pen drive was also found from the spot,” he said.With regard to a similar blast at Civil Station in Kollam last June, he said the probe in the case was progressing.Giving details of yesterday’s blast, Vijayan said the car of the District Home Officer, in which the blast occurred and a vehicle parked nearby were damaged.”The car driver and the doctor were inside the office when the blast occurred,” he said.However, he said “there was no situation prevailing in the region that warranted a debate in the house.” A very low intensity Improvised Explosive Device had gone off in a car parked near the Judicial First Class Magistrate court inside the civil station here yesterday, but no one was injured.P Ubaidulla (IUML) from Malappuram,who raised the matter, said government should view the incident very seriously as he suspected it was an attempt to destroy the peaceful atmosphere of Malappuram, a region dominated by the Muslim community.”The incident has created fear and concern among people in the area. There is suspicion that it is a deliberate attempt to destroy peaceful coexistence among people.” With regard to ‘Base Movement’, he said people in the region had not heard about any such outfit. “There is a propaganda to spread a false message that Malappuram has become a hideout for terror outfits”, he added.

After Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim, Kerala becomes open defection free state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala has become the third Open Defecation Free (ODF) state in the country. The announcement was made on the state’s foundation day on Tuesday. Earlier, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim had declared themselves Open Defecation Free.”Kerala has become an ODF state today,” Drinking Water and Sanitation Secretary Parameswaran Iyer said. He said over 1 lakh villages across the country have become ODF.”Kerala becomes first high density populated state in the country to achieve Open Defecation Free status today on its formation day,” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a tweet.Meanwhile, a source said three more states–Gujarat, Haryana and Uttarakhand–will be announcing themselves as ODF soon.

Can blame game actually end bloodbath in Kannur?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Less than an hour’s drive from where BJP’s Koothuparamba candidate Sadanandan Master campaigned during the Kerala assembly elections this year was the home of KV Sudheesh, a CPM activist. Both were victims of Kannur’s bloodthirsty eye for an eye political violence on the same day, two decades ago.While Sadanandan master had lost both his legs, Sudheesh was killed in front of his parents. In the recent spurt of violence after the elections, the scoresheet of CPM and BJP on killings of their workers in Kannur district stand at three each.The nearly five-decade old Kannur bloodbath seems all set to resonate louder in Delhi as the RSS-BJP and CPM spar over the violence and its history. The BJP plans to raise the issue in the winter session of Parliament beginning in November saying it was a “question of threat to life and liberty”. The party has stepped up its campaign against its ideological foe saying killings of BJP and RSS workers had increased in the CPM bastion ever since the Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power. Meanwhile, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi, along with leaders Indresh Kumar and PVB Menon, visited families of the victims in the state, sources said.The CPM is planning its own counter-campaign. In Kerala, the party is holding “jathas” and carrying out a campaign with pamphlets and history of the violence. Party sources said an exhibition on the violence against its cadre was likely to be brought to Delhi and all state capitals in November.CPM leader Prakash Karat recalled how the violence began with clashes between beedi unit workers and owners in the late sixties. He said owners hired men from Karnataka, where the RSS had a presence. A decade later RSS shakhas came up in Kannur, a CPM bastion.The RSS has its own version of the history of violence. According to RSS, it was in 1940s that it began work in the state and Left cadre disillusioned with communism started joining it. Briefing the media at the RSS meeting in Hyderabad on Monday, J Nandakumar said the first victim was Vaddikal Ramakrishnan, a tailor of Thalassery. He also alleged that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was involved in the 1969 murder.The RSS asked the state and central government to take action against the perpetrators of violence and ensure the rule of law in Kerala prevailed.The CPM polit bureau issued a statement on Tuesday saying the RSS has repeated its fabricated charge against the Left.”Our party has said we are prepared to have talks to see that this violence ends,” Karat said.A BJP leader, however, said it was futile to talk to CPM. BJP president Amit Shah has repeatedly expressed concern about “attacks on his party workers in the CM’s home constituency.””We have demanded that government should make efforts to establish peace. We will expose CPM if they do not,” said state BJP leader V Muralidharan.CPM has listed five Left workers “assassinated” since Vijayan’s victory rally in Dharmadam constituency after elections. The BJP has alleged that four of its workers have been killed since then.For the BJP, which has made inroads into the state’s electoral map for the first time, Kerala is one of the states that it has set eyes on in its mission 2019. A state leader said Shah has asked the party to target all 20 seats. A three-member party team headed by General secretary Bhupendra Yadav has submitted a report on Kannur violence from 1968, in which it said 82 of RSS-BJP cadre had been killed.CPM suspects that BJP has a larger political motive of pinning down the LDF government over breakdown of law and order and taking it on in its bastions. Sources said violence had also surfaced in Trishur, where the Left won nine of the ten seats, but BJP got around 20,000 votes in every constituency, eating into the UDF vote.A BJP leader said victims of violence had been mostly those who had changed their affiliations from the Left to the Right.

UDF walkout in Kerala Assembly over Jayarajan appointment row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after resignation of Industries Minister EP Jayarajan over alleged nepotism in appointments in PSUs, Congress-led UDF opposition members staged a walkout in the state assembly on Monday demanding that the role of the Chief Ministers’ office be included in the ambit of the Vigilance probe. The House witnessed heated exchanges between members of ruling and opposition benches when a notice for an adjournment motion seeking a debate over the issue was moved by the opposition. Replying to the notice for the motion, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan denied the opposition charge that he was aware of the postings. The appointments were made in accordance with rules and procedures by the departments concerned, he said. Vijayan said Jayarajan expressed his desire to resign to uphold the values and ethics in politics and the party had accepted it. The UDF was using the opportunity to attack the LDF government which is going on in right direction, he said. Making a statement in the House, Jayarajan said he was being “hunted by a mafia that controls PSUs from outside.” Asserting that the postings were done in accordance with law, he said a section of media also joined the campaign to oust him from the ministry as he did not yield to the pressure of “outside forces, that were controlling the PSUs.” He alleged that media was even “paid” to continue the campaign against him for the last 12 days. “You (opposition) wanted my blood, you got it”, Jayarajan said in his emotional speech. Jayarajan also alleged that PSUs were in bad shape during the previous UDF rule due to “inept” administration. Attacking the government, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said it was difficult to believe that the postings in key positions in PSUs were done without the knowledge of the Chief Minister. Hitting hard at Jayarajan, Chennithala said the former Industries Minister had recommended for appointments on his letter pad to Industries Secretary. Resignation of Jayarajan was an attempt to wriggle out of the situation and save the government’s image by making him a scapegoat, Chennithala said, adding, the role of the Chief Minister’s office should also be probed by the Vigilance. Appointment of P K Sudheer, Jayarajan’s nephew and son of CPI(M) Kannur MP P K Sreemathi, as the Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises Ltd had triggered the row. After the reply of Chief Minister, Speaker P Sreeramakrishan refused leave for the motion moved by V D Sateeshan (Cong), following which UDF opposition staged walkout.

Kerala Governor accepts EP Jayarajan’s resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Governor P Sathasivam on Friday accepted the resignation of Industries Minister E P Jayarajan who resigned in the wake of allegations of nepotism in appointments in PSUs. The governor has accepted the resignation of EP Jayarajan and portfolios handled by him has been given to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Raj Bhavan sources said on Friday night.Earlier in the day, CPI-M state secretariat accepted Jayarajan’s request to resign in the wake of the raging row over appointment of his nephew to a key post in a state PSU. Jayarajan, considered number two in the cabinet and close to Vijayan, was in the eye of a storm over the appointment of his nephew and son of Kannur MP P K Sreemathi, P K Sudheer Nambiar, as Managing Director of the Kerala Industrial Enterprises Ltd. His appointment was later quashed by the government.Another appointment, that of Deepthi Nishad, Jayarajan’s brother’s daughter-in-law, also had become controversial, following which she had resigned two days ago. His continuation as minister became untenable as a majority of state secretariat members voiced concern over the development as the issue could dent the image of the LDF government, which had come to power promising a transparent and corruption free governance.The Kannur strong man, who had successfully contested from Mattannur in the northern Kannur district, was a member of the Assembly from 1991 to 1996 and an MLA again from 2011 onwards.

Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan to quit over nepotism allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan will resign on Friday after the controversy surrounding alleged nepotism in appointments for key posts in state PSUs.The CPI(M)’s Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that CPI(M) state secretariat permitted Jayarajan to submit his resignation.The State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was understood to have decided to order a preliminary probe into certain controversial appointments of relatives of Industries Minister EP Jayarajan in key posts yesterday in state PSUs. However, there is no official word on the decision of the bureau. Meanwhile, the Special Court (Vigilance) directed the bureau to file its reply by tomorrow on a complaint with regard to the alleged appointments. Against the backdrop of opposition Congress and BJP targeting it on the issue, the four-month old LDF government has decided to bring in a law to prevent any nepotism in appointments in key positions in public sector units (PSUs).The cabinet also entrusted Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand with the task to examine the various complaints with regard to any appointments which have become controversial. “This is to prevent nepotism in appointments,” a statement quoting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. The complaint in the Special Vigilance court had sought filing of FIR and registration of case against Jayarajan, who had allegedly appointed some relatives to key posts in state PSUs. When the case came up today, the court directed the Vigilance bureau to file a reply on the petition by tomorrow.According to sources, preliminary inquiry was to find out whether there was any substance in the complaints to register a case and order further probe. The complaint filed in the Vigilance court contended that nepotism amounted to corruption and sought registration of a case under Prevention of Corruption Act. Besides the complaint in the court, three other petitions, including that of Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP leader V Muraleedharan seeking filing of FIR and registering a case against Jayarajan, are pending before Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas. Against this backdrop, Thomas met Chief Minister Vijayan this morning and held discussions. Vijayan also met party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan this evening ahead of the party state committee to be held tomorrow which may discuss the appointment issue.

Kerala: Two RSS workers arrested in connection with CPM activist’s murder

Kannur: Two RSS workers were on Friday taken into custody in connection with the murder of a CPI-M local committee member in Kannur district on 10 October. Toddy shop worker Mohanan, 40, was hacked to death by a six-member gang. He was the CPI(M)’s Paduvilayi local committee member. Police said the the activist died on the way to the hospital.

The attack took place in the morning when he was inside the shop. Another worker, Ashokan, was also injured, police said.

Roopesh (23) and Rahul (22) were picked up from RSS office at Kannur, police said on Friday.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

Police had registered cases against seven persons in connection with the incident.

Within 48 hours of the murder of the CPI(M) activist Mohanan BJP activist Remith was hacked to death in the home town of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday.

In retaliation, buses and autorickshaws were off the roads as the 12-hour state-wide hartal called by the BJP in Kerala to protest against the brutal killing of a 25-year-old party activist in Kannur on Thursday. This was the second hartal in Kannur district within 3 days as the CPI(M) had observed a hartal in protest against the murder of their worker. The Centre on Thursday sought a report from the Kerala government on the BJP worker’s death.

The police have registered cases against 10 CPI(M) workers in connection with the attack on Remith. A special squad under DYSP (Administration) TP Renjith has been formed to investigate the case.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had said the violence in Kerala has been started by the RSS-BJP combine itself and blaming the state’s ruling party for the same is “total fabrication” of facts.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while speaking at a function in Alappuzha, attacked RSS and BJP over the attack on a Marxist worker in Kannur three days ago and accused RSS of spreading violence in the state.

With repeated instances of political violence between the BJP and the CPI-M in Left-ruled Kerala, Congress asked the two parties to stop “such politics” or else the state would turn into “devil’s own country” on Thursday.

Kerala: Shops, establishments remain closed after BJP enacts state-wide shutdown

Thiruvananthapuram: The dawn-to-dusk Kerala shutdown called by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit on Thursday to protest the murder of one of its activists in Kannur was total, reports in Thiruvananthapuram said.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

While shops and establishments remained closed, attendances in various government and private establishments were thin as public and private transport and buses remained off the road.

Commuters arriving at railway stations in the state were stranded as public transport was unavailable.

The BJP worker’s murder in Kannur on Wednesday had taken place in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s village and was the second in two days, also the seventh in Kannur district since he assumed office in May.

Despite the shutdown, Vijayan’s cabinet held its routine weekly meeting at the state secretariat where security was stepped up.

Both at the Indian Space Research Organisation centre and Technopark campus, the police were deployed in numbers to ensure the safety of the employees and of the campus.

As many private firms allowed their workers to work from home, “the overall attendance was not like on usual working days,” an IT official said.

Although two-wheelers and private vehicles were seen plying around in urban areas, the picture was different in the rural localities.

At Thrissur and in the state capital here, the protesters vented their anger against the media by destroying the advertisement boards of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

In some places, the protesters even roughed up persons who tried to venture out — the car of a medical professional in Kollam’s Karunagapally was damaged.

The BJP workers also held protest marches in all district headquarters and raised slogans against Pinarayi Vijayan.

Jayalalithaa ‘constantly monitored’; Kerala Governor, CM visit hospital; two arrested for spreading rumour

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa continuing to receive treatment, a stream of high-profile visitors, including Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday visited the Apollo Hospital and enquired about her health.The hospital, where the AIADMK general secretary was admitted on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration, said she was “constantly being monitored”.”Prof Dr G Khilnani, Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), visited Apollo Hospital again on October 9 and 10 and examined Honourable Chief Minister,” the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Subbiah Viswanathan, said in a release.Khilnani, part of a three-member AIIMS panel which had examined Jayalalithaa last week, had discussions with the hospital’s expert panel and “concurred with the present line of treatment” being given to the chief minister, the release said.Jayalalithaa continues to be under treatment and “is being constantly monitored by the intensivists and other consultants in the expert panel”, it added.Necessary respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy were being given to her, the release said.Earlier, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who visited the hospital yesterday, described Jayalalithaa as a “fighter” and expressed confidence that she would continue to serve the people of Tamil Nadu.”I am confident that she has a strong willpower and she is always a fighter. I am confident that she will fight back, become normal and continue to serve the people of Tamil Nadu and that is my wish,” he told reporters after making a “courtesy call” on Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan.Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi also visited the hospital and quoted the doctors as saying that Jayalalithaa “was recovering”.Vijayan, accompanied by Sathasivam, visited the hospital and held discussions with hospital CMD Prathap Reddy.”We met Dr Prathap Reddy and the other doctors providing treatment to the chief minister. The specialists informed us that she was responding well to the treatment,” Sathasivam told reporters.”Within a short period, she is likely to be discharged and it is possible for her to take charge of the administration. We also pray for her speedy recovery,” he said.Vijayan said the two had come to “convey the collective good wishes of the people of Kerala”.Bedi said, she was informed by Reddy that Jayalalithaa was “progressing”.”He said, Amma (as Jayalalithaa is addressed) is under very good care and that she is progressing. I would like to pray for her to keep progressing. I have come here out of absolute respect as a neighbour as Puducherry is Tamil Nadu’s neighbour and it is my duty to be here,” she said.Meanwhile, the AIADMK said “all is well” with Jayalalithaa.”All is well with Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (revolutionary leader mother),” the official Twitter handle of the party, @AIADMKofficial, said.Party workers and supporters continued to hold prayers across the state at different places of worship for the chief minister’s speedy recovery.Meanwhile, the police today arrested two persons, including a software engineer, for allegedly spreading rumours regarding Jayalalithaa’s health.The Central Crime Branch arrested Sathish Kumar, a software engineer from Tiruchengode, for allegedly sharing such information on his Facebook page.He “confessed” to his crime, the police said, adding that the arrest was made on a complaint from AIADMK IT Wing secretary G Ramachandran.Another person, Madasamy, was arrested from Madurai on a complaint from a Chennai resident who alleged that an audio clip, purportedly featuring the voice of a hospital employee and referring to Jayalalithaa’s health, was being circulated on the internet.The two were booked under IPC sections dealing with “wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot” and “statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes,” the police said, adding that they were remanded to judicial custody.Steps were on to nab those behind “spreading rumours” about the chief minister’s health, the police said.Efforts were on to remove such posts from social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp, the police said, adding that 43 cases have been filed so far in this regard.Such an offence, if proved, was punishable with seven years of imprisonment, the police said and warned the people against indulging in such activities.

Kerala appointment row: Govt views it seriously, decision to be taken soon, says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With opposition continuing to slam the LDF government over the appointment of ministerial relatives to plum posts in PSUs, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday admitted it was a ‘serious’ issue and said an appropriate decision would be taken soon.To add to the government’s woes, senior CPI-M leader, V S Achuthanandan also hit out, saying exemplary action should be taken against the wrongdoer. When asked about the ongoing row over the appointments, Vijayan told reporters in Kozhikode: “The issues which have cropped up now, the government viewed them seriously. We will decide together and take an appropriate decision.” “LDF is not UDF, CPI(M) is not Congress,” he added.Congress-led UDF and BJP have been demanding resignation of Industries Minister E P Jayarajan after his relative P K Sudheer Nambiar, son of senior CPI(M) leader and Kannur MP, P K Sreemathi, was appointed Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises Ltd (KSIE). The government later quashed it.Asked whether the present controversy had tarnished the image of the LDF government, Achuthanandan said: “There is no doubt (about it).” “I think the government will conduct a serious inquiry into the issue and take exemplary action against the wrongdoer,” he told reporters in Thiruvanathapuram.When asked about the statement of Achuthanandan, who is also Chairman of Administrative Reforms Commission, Vijayan did not react. The chief minister also took time to explain that the appointment of Sreemathi’s daughter-in-law as a member of her personal staff during her tenure as health minister in the Achuthanandan government 10 years ago, was not with the knowledge of the party.Vijayan, who was party secretary then, said ministers can appoint three persons in their personal staff– a cook, driver and a person to answer the telephone. The party was not aware of the appointment of Sreemathi’s daughter-in-law and no prior permission need be taken from the party for it as the minister concerned can decide, he said.However, when she was promoted, it came to the party’s notice and it was felt that was not appropriate and the appointment was struck down, he said. The chief minister’s response came hours after Sreemathi put out a Facebook post on the issue as heat over her son’s appointment continued to rage for the fourth day today.Sreemathi had stated in the post that her daughter-in-law’s appointment was “with the party’s knowledge.”When the controversy broke out, she resigned as per the party’s directive. “But, she is not receiving any (government) pension as alleged by Congress and BJP leaders. She has not even applied for it,” the former minister clarified. However, she later withdrew the post following criticism from various quarters.Meanwhile, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on Sunday dragged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan into the row and said Vijayan’s stand he was “unaware” about the controversial appointments was “not correct.” He also wanted the government to quash appointments of leaders’ relatives in PSUs.”Chief Minister is well aware about the appointments. But he is now trying to be saint. His claim of being unaware about it is only to hoodwink,” Chennithala said in Wayanad.”Accused should be punished under anti-corruption law. Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau should take action in this,” he said adding that Jayarajan had no moral right to continue in the position.BJP state secretary M T Ramesh also demanded Jayarajan’s resignation. The minister should be expelled from the government if he was not ready to go out himself, Ramesh told a press meet in Thiruvanathapuram. He also said the party would approach court, soon after the pooja holidays, seeking action against Jayarajan.

dna Morning Must Reads: US NSA on Uri attack, latest on SAARC summit and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. US NSA Rice calls Doval, condemns Uri attack; says expects Pak to take ‘effective action to combat terror’US National Security Advisor Susan Rice called her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and condemned the Uri terrorist attack saying the White House expects Pakistan to take “effective action to combat and delegitimise” UN-designated terrorist groups. Read more2. Pakistan concedes, says SAARC summit can be postponed; rules out shifting venueIndia pulled off a diplomatic coup against Pakistan by getting Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to its side by forcing cancellation of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit. The summit is scheduled to be held in Islamabad in the scenic Pakistani resort of Murre in November. Read details3. BCCI – Determined not to be reformed, writes Kirti Azad”Hum purane zamaane ke jailor hain-hum nahin sudharenge” was what comedian Asrani, the famous jailor in Sholay used to often quip. BCCI is also patterned on Asrani’s filmy character — or as the honourable Supreme Court judges recently asked BCCI counsel — why is BCCI not wanting to be reformed? Read full story4. Prashant Bhushan writes to Kerala CM Vijayan urging halt in culling of stray dogsEven as animal lovers not only across India but also globally are protesting against the mass killing of dogs in Kerala including by politicians, Supreme court advocate Prashant Bhushan has written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to not only intervene in the matter but also ask the cops to arrest those involved in killing of strays. Read more5. South Carolina shooting: 14-year-old boy killed father, before opening fire on elementary schoolA 14-year-old South Carolina boy shot and killed his father then drove to an elementary school playground where he wounded two children and a teacher with a handgun before being tackled by a firefighter who held him for police, authorities said on Wednesday. Read more

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s remark against Youth Congress triggers uproar in Assembly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s remarks against Youth Congress on Tuesday triggered protests in the Assembly as Congress-led UDF opposition members disrupted the proceedings by raising slogans and holding banners and placards. As the Opposition demanded withdrawal of the statement and declined to cooperate with the proceedings, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan adjourned the House for the day.Mocking at the ongoing agitations of Youth Congress demanding the roll back of fees hike in private self financing medical colleges, Vijayan said those who waved black flag at him recently as part of the protest were not YC activists but somebody “hired” by television channels. He also said Youth Congress activists were disrupting normal life of people and trying to create law and order problem and tension in many places “purposefully” in the name of agitation.”Two people showed black flag at me when I went out of the Secretariat. Some television channel cameramen could also be seen at the other side of the road,” he said while replying to the notice for an adjournment motion by Shafi Parambil (Cong)) over the private medical college issue. “I think, those who waved black flag were not Youth Congress activists, but somebody hired by television channels. I do not think Youth Congress would come for a black flag protest with such less number of activists,” he said.Sticking to the government’s earlier stand that students were benefited by the agreement signed by the government with the managements of private self financing colleges, he said the CPI(M)-led LDF government would initiate strong action against those managements who demand capitation fee.As the Chief Minister continued his statement, a number of opposition MLAS trooped to the Speaker’s dais demanding withdrawal of the statement and squatted at the well and raised slogans against Vijayan and the government. Expressing strong protest over the remarks, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said Vijayan’s comments were “unbecoming” of the position he held. “Vijayan should not use in the House the language which he uses in party committees and in street. This language is unbecoming of the position which he holds,” he said, adding that the remarks should be expunged from the Assembly records.As protest continued and repeated attempts to send the opposition members back to their seats failed, the speaker took up other businesses slated earlier and adjourned the House for the day.

Soumya case: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan assures justice to rape victim’s family

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday assured all support to ensure justice to the family of Soumya, who was allegedly raped and murdered after being pushed out from a moving train in Thrissur district in February 2011.Vijayan gave the assurance when Sumathi, mother of Soumya, met him at his official chamber here to express her concern over the recent Supreme Court verdict, commuting the death sentence awarded to Govindachamy, the lone accused in the sensational rape and murder case. “I am satisfied with my meeting with the Chief Minister.I am going home content,” she told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister along with her son Sumesh. In a Facebook post, Vijayan later said the grieving mother’s sorrow and concern is being shared by all and such incidents should not happen in the future. “In the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict in the Soumya case, her mother Sumathi today came to my office to meet me and share things. We will do everything to ensure justice for Soumya,” he said. “Such things should not happen in future. We share the sorrow and concern of that mother”, he said.Ministers E Chandrasekharan, A K Balan, Kadannappally Ramachandran, Mathew T Thomas, A K Saseendran, J Mercykutty Amma, K T Jaleel and K Raju, MLA P K Sasi and DGP Loknath Behera were also present during the time of meeting.The Chief Minister’s assurance assumed significance with political opponents mounting a scathing attack on the CPI(M)-led LDF government for alleged lapses in dealing with the case. Sumathi had also described the verdict as ‘heart breaking’ and alleged that it was due to the ‘failure’ of the state prosecutor to ‘properly’ represent the case in the Apex Court.According to the prosecution, Govindachamy had raped Soumya, a 23-year old sales representative after pushing her out from a running train on February 1, 2011. The Thrissur trial court had sentenced him to death, which was upheld by the Kerala High Court. The Supreme Court, however, commuted his death sentence, while upholding the life imprisonment.The Kerala government has decided to file a review petition against the verdict in the Apex Court.

Congress in a spot as Kerala government backs GST

Congress seems to be losing the battle on Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill and may not be able to oppose passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha during the coming monsoon session of the parliament.A day after Kerala’s finance minister, Thomas Isaac came out openly in support of the GST bill as presented by the BJP government, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, too, said that the state government has no objections to the GST bill.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After attending the state finance ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, primarily called to bring a consensus on the GST bill, Issac had remarked, “I don’t know what made them (Congress) make such an amendment” and that he “did not find any reason to stand in way of GST.”In New Delhi, Vijayan was candid in accepting that there were differences on GST between the state government and the CPM’s party leadership.”CPM had earlier raised some reservations. Kerala government has agreed with the Bill. In Parliament, when it was discussed, CPM has raised certain reservations. But Kerala government has no objections,” Vijayan said.Incidentally, Vijayan is also a politbureau member of the CPM.While the state government is in favour of implementing GST, CPM has some reservations about it and may still put them across in the parliament. But how much the party will be able to hold out against the wishes of the Kerala state government, is yet to be seen.Vijayan is in Delhi to attend the politbureau and Central Committee meetings of his party. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury has been opposing the Bill on the grounds that it will hamper the federal structure and will reduce the revenues of states.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan rejects demand for all-party meet on Mullaperiyar dam issue

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday rejected the opposition Congress-led UDF’s demand to convene an all-party meeting on the Mullaperiyar dam issue, saying there was no new development over the matter. He also said there was no change in Kerala’s stand that a new dam was the need of the hour. But that cannot be achieved without the support from Tamil Nadu and the Centre’s consent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is no need to call an all-party meeting on the Mullaperiyar issue. There is no fresh issues in this regard. If there is any fresh problem, only then there is need to call such a meeting,” Vijayan told reporters at a meet-the-press programme, organised by the Press Club. The UDF had sought an all party meeting to discuss the Mullaperiyar issue in view of the ‘confusion’ over Chief Minister’s remarks over the safety of the dam during his recent New Delhi visit.”There is no change in Kerala’s demand for a new dam. But we cannot construct it all alone. The support of Tamil Nadu and consent of the Centre is essential for this. The hurdle lies there,” Vijayan said when asked about his stand over Mullaperiyar dam, which is a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.While Tamil Nadu believed that the dam was strong, Kerala’s argument was that the century-old dam was in a dilapidated state and weak, he said.”Both Tamil Nadu and the Supreme Court have not agreed to our argument. That is why we want an Internationally acclaimed panel of experts to study the dam’s strength,” he said.The neighbouring state’s support was essential to resolve the matter, he said.”It cannot be attained through confrontation. We are not for that. The dispute should be settled through discussions,” he added.The chief minister also said he discussed the matter with the members of Mullaperiyar Protection Council, a forum which was for a new dam considering the safety of the local people, and they had no objection to his views.

When Kerala Sports Minister and Anadita Patel were trolled for their tributes to Muhammad Ali

Social media can be hilarious, and sometimes unforgiving. It has virtually forced the number two minister in the two-week-old Pinarayi Vijayan ministry in Kerala, EP Jayarajan, to admit that he has indeed goofed up on the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.After memes and trolls rained over his tribute, calling Muhammad Ali ‘pride of Kerala’, the new sports minister and CPM heavyweight admitted to his gaffe on Sunday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I just heard that Muhammad Ali died in America. He was a prominent sports personality in Kerala. He has won gold medal and made Kerala famous in the world of sports. I express my condolences,” the minister could be heard saying in the video.But the Facebook post he put out on the faux pas too ended up as fodder for those baying for his blood on the social media. They ask how could a minister, who is unpardonably ignorant of great Ali, successfully lead Kerala sports, which has produced an array of sports stars, they ask.The minister, in turn, has put the blame on the TV reporter who sought his reaction. “While I was rushing for a function, I was called by the channel for my comment. They didn’t brief me properly. I was under the impression that the dead Muhammad Ali was a Kerala sports man. For a moment my memory didn’t work. In such situations, channels properly brief ministers. It did not happen my case. I hope people in Kerala and the sports world would realise it. But I admit that mistake is a mistake,” the minister’s Facebook post reads.Another one to be trolled for mistaking Muhammad Ali for a footballer, however, was not so forthcoming as the minister in admitting to her folly. Anadita Patel, who was trending all over for her tweet, “RIP Mohammed Ali. The best footballer of all time better than Ronaldo Maradona and Messi”, even as people were mourning all over the internet, tweeted on Sunday, “To Every1, I mistake Pele with Ali.They almost same.And you all make fun of me and call me dumb.I no change for u All.”

Sachin Tendulkar to be the face of govt’s anti-drug campaign: Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram: Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has agreed to a request of CPM led LDF government in Kerala to use his name in a campaign against drug and liquor abuse in the state.

File photo of Sachin Tendulkar. ReutersFile photo of Sachin Tendulkar. Reuters

File photo of Sachin Tendulkar. Reuters

This was stated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after Tendulkar along with three other co-owners of the Kerala Blasters Football Club (KBFC) met him at the state secretariat on Wednesday.

“Tendulkar has given consent to use his name to strengthen the campaign against liquor and drug abuse in the state. He has agreed to cooperate in the campaign,” he told reporters.

Asked whether Tendulkar would be the state’s ‘ambassador’ for the campaign, Vijayan said all those things would be discussed later.

Vijayan also said the KBFC has agreed to set up a residential Football Academy to train young talents in the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Tendulkar said the main mission of the academy was to produce international level players from the soccer-crazy state in the next five years.

“You will have really something to smile in a few years time,” Tendulkar said.

Actor-turned politician Chiranjeevi, actor Akkineni Naagarjuna and Prasad, the co-owners of the KBFC, state Sports Minister E P Jayarajan, Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac were also present on the occasion.

Pinarayi Vijayan ad blitzkrieg faces flak from friends and foes

The red front page advertisements– showing Marxist Pinarayi Vijayan ahead of being sworn-in as Kerala chief minister– in national dailies on Wednesday morning raised eyebrows. This was not a leader of BJP, Congress or AAP, but that of the CPM which had always spurned personality cult.The unfamiliar image of a Left leader full-page, and in some cases two-page, newspaper advertisements, created a flutter with the Opposition taking digs at the Left and social media going abuzz about the “changing” Left.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Vijayan’s smiling image and a tagline saying “committed to turn Kerala into a truly God’s own country,” it said the Pinarayi Vijayan government is committed to keep its promises. The advertisement was put out by the Public Relations Department of the state government, and not the party.CPM leaders played it down saying it was a government adverstisement. However, its ally, CPI expressed reservations about projection of an individual instead of the LDF. “This gives the impression that a personality cult is being built up. People voted for LDF and not just one person. It could have been an LDF ad and it was not necessary to spend so much money on it,” said CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy.The BJP, which has opened its account in the state but was hoping to wrest more votes from the Left, made the most of the opportunity to take on the CPM. “Looks like CPM is moving away from its ideology. It is following the footsteps of those it criticised,”said BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.BJP leader R Balashankar took to twitter to pick on the CPM. “How market savvy CPM has become to give 2pg color ads in all national dailies on Pinarayi swearing in.”In another tweet, he said “committed to turn Kerala into a truly God’s own country: CPM ad. So, comrades believe in god?”A television channel quoted CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury as saying that it is a “normal thing” for any new government which is about to form and replace the old one.The ad underlines the Pinarayi-centric strategy that the party has pursued in the run-up to the elections over the past six months. While VS Achuthanandan, Pinarayi’s bete noire in the CPM, did often steal the limelight, the party has set the record straight. Pinarayi, sworn in as chief minister later in the day, is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, when he is in the Capital to attend his party’s two-day politburo meeting.

Pinarayi Vijayan sworn in as Kerala CM

CPI(M) strongman Pinarayi Vijayan was today sworn in as Chief Minister of Kerala heading a 19-member ministry of the party-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) that had 13 new faces including two women.Seventy-two-year-old Vijayan, who pipped his bitter party rival V S Achuthanandan to the top post in Kerala politics, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam at the Central Stadium here. Hailing from a poor toddy tapper’s family, Vijayan, a first time Chief Minister, took the oath in Malayalam. A CPI-M Politburo member, he is the 12th chief minister of Kerala. Out of the 19-member cabinet, 12 including the Chief Minister are from CPI(M), 4 from CPI, one each from NCP, Janata Dal(S) and Congress(S). The outgoing Congress-led UDF had 21 ministers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are 13 new faces, including two women, in the Cabinet. Five ministers had held positions in previous LDF ministries. The CPI(M)-LDF had unseated the Congress-led UDF by securing 91 seats in the 140-member House in the May 16 assembly polls.
ALSO READ From toddy tapper’s son to Kerala’s new Chief Minister: The rise of Pinarayi Vijayan A huge pandal to accommodate at least 30,000 persons was put up at the stadium, adjacent to the state Secretariat. CCTVs erected at various places enabled the large crowd, who had gathered to view the ceremony streamed live.All you need to know about VijayanThe slight drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of the party workers who had arrived in buses and other vehicles from various parts of the state, especially the northern districts of Kasaragod, Kannur and Kozhikode, to witness the swearing-in ceremony, which began at 4 pm.In 2006 also, the swearing in of then Chief Minister V S Achutanandan and his cabinet colleague was held outside the Raj Bhavan.Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, former Chief Ministers Oommen Chandy, V S Achutanandan, CPI(M) General Secretary Seetharam Yechury, Prakash Karat, 97-year-old K R Gowri Amma, who was Revenue minister in the EMS Namboodiripad cabinet of 1957, former union minister and lone member of BJP in the assembly O Rajagopal, religious and cultural leaders and film actors attended the function.

Kerala: More cabinet berths for CPI in new LDF govt?

The Communist Party of India has informally staked its claim for five ministerial berths, the Manorama report on Saturday. CPI, the second largest constituent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), has staked claim in the cabinet that is to be formed on May 25.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the report, an informal meeting LDF chief minister designate Pinarayi Vijayan, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, his CPI counterpart Kanam Rajendran and senior leader CPI leader Panniyan Raveendran was held in which the matter was discussed.The CPI has also told CPM leaders that it wanted a change in some portfolios. Manorama reported that in the 2006 VS Achuthanandan government, the CPI had 13 MLAs and four ministers. The CPI’s claim for a fifth minister comes in the wake of winning an extra of five seats in the current elections.The CPM on its part wants to restrict the number of ministers to 19 like the previous LDF ministry and it is likely to do away with the chief whip post, said the report. The Oommen Chandy government had conferred cabinet rank to the Chief Whip’s post to accommodate PC George who was later sent out due to the differences over the bar bribery scam with former finance minister KM Mani.The LDF leadership would also have to take a call on whether to give ministries to three legislators- Kovvur Kunjumon, Vijayan Pillai and KBGanesh Kumar who fought under its banner.

Will continue to play the role of ‘sentinel’ to the people of Kerala: Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram: CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan on Saturday said he would continue to play the role of a “sentinel” of the people of Kerala, a day after the party unanimously nominated Pinarayi Vijayan over him for the Chief Minister’s post.

Achuthanandan, who called a press meet this morning to announce that he was stepping down as the Opposition leader, refused to be drawn into any matters relating to the selection of party politburo member Vijayan as the new LDF Chief Minister.

“I will continue as a sentinel of the people of Kerala by upholding the spirit of the Left and taking up people’s issues,” 92-year-old Achuthanandan, a tireless fighter against corruption and corrective force within the party, told reporters shortly after the Chief Minister-designate made a courtesy call on him at his residence.

File photo. AFPFile photo. AFP

File photo. AFP

Achuthanandan, who was the LDF’s face in the campaign during the May 16 assembly polls, evaded questions on whether he was sidelined.

“This is not the time for any such questions. I have called you (media) as I am formally demitting the office as Opposition leader and to thank you for all the support you have given to me,” he said.

Asked about reports that he would be given some top post, he replied, “You know that I don’t expect such things.”

The CPI(M) veteran said the people of Kerala expect LDF to bring out the truth behind the various scams of the previous Congress-led UDF government.

“People also believe that the new LDF government will put behind bars those involved in the murder of Dalit law student at Perumbavoor in Kochi recently,” Achuthanandan said.

He said the people expect the LDF government to complete the state’s dream projects like Kochi Metro, Kannur International Airport and SmartCity IT in a time-bound manner.

The nonagenarian said he will be very much in the state capital when asked if he would be shifting to his home town in Allapuzha.

Achuthanandan in his trademark style ended the press conference saying “good bye…good bye…good bye”.

There were reports that Achuthanandan was unhappy at not being anointed as Chief Minister after being instrumental in giving the front such a resounding victory.

He was elected from Malampuzha constituency in Palakkad by a margin of 27,142 votes.

LDF secured 91 seats and Congress-led UDF 47 in the 140 member-assembly, while BJP bagged a single seat in the May 16 assembly polls.

CM post ends Pinarayi’s long wait but Lavlin case can still spoil party

The SNC Lavalin corruption case hanging over his head and a dour demeanour he put up in the public were the major hurdles that kept Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan from parliamentary politics for nearly two decades.

He cleared the first hurdle in November 2013 when a CBI court accepted his discharge petition in the case pertaining to a loss of Rs 374.50 crore the state exchequer suffered from a deal he initiated with Canadian company SNC Lavalin for the renovation of three hydro-electric plants in violation of norms during his term as electricity minister from 1996 to 1998.

He sought to cement his position for the top post by going through an image makeover before the election. The 72-year-old leader changed his tough body language and tried to sport a smile whenever he appeared in television and interacted with people. He also tried to interact with the people by opening accounts on Facebook and other social media forums.

However, the people were not impressed. They gave him a poor ranking in the pre-poll opinion polls. Most of the surveys placed him below 12 points in popularity among the major contenders for the chief minister. Ninety-two-year-old V S Achuthanandan topped the chart in popularity with 35 points. Even solar scam-tainted Chief Minister Oommen Chandy fared better than Vijayan with a ranking of 34.

Pinarayi Vijayan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@vijayanpinarayiPinarayi Vijayan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@vijayanpinarayi

Pinarayi Vijayan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@vijayanpinarayi

This did not matter for the CPI(M) central leadership, which wanted a younger and tougher leader to steer the government and prevent the movement from collapsing at a time when it is facing its biggest crisis in its other bastion West Bengal.

Vijayan’s colleagues in Kerala feel that he is the most suitable leader to become the chief minister as he has already proved his administrative capability as power minister and his organisational abilities by steering the party as state secretary from 1998 to 2015.

Even his critics acknowledge the contributions he made for enhancing the power supply during the three years he handled the electricity portfolio. They see Vijayan as a pro-development leader, who is ready to shake hands with corporates whom the party had alienated with its anti-capitalist ideology for the development of the state.

Many mega projects like a high-speed rail corridor from north to south and the Kochi-Palakkad industrial corridor included in the CPI(M) manifesto are seen as an example of his development vision. Most of these projects were opposed by Achuthanandan during his term as chief minister from 2006 to 2011.

Born on 21 March 1944 in a poor family at Pinarayi in the northern district of Kannur, Vijayan had worked as a handloom weaver before joining politics. He left the job after a year and joined for pre–university course in the Government Brennen College, Thalassery. Subsequently, he completed his degree course from the same college.

The student union activities at the college drew Vijayan into the Communist movement. He started his association with the party by joining the Kerala Student’s Federation (KSF), which is now the Students Federation of India (SFI). Vijayan who served as the president and secretary of the body later became the president of Kerala State Youth Federation (KSYF), a precursor of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).

During the period, when communists in Kerala were organising the political activities from different hide-outs, Vijayan was imprisoned for one-and-a-half years. He was also arrested during the Emergency and tortured by the police.

Vijayan was noted after he became the Kannur district secretary of the CPM following the expulsion of late MV Raghavan over his deviation from party lines in aligning with communal parties. Within three years, he became a member of the state secretariat.

He was elected to the Assembly in 1970, 1977 and 1991 from Koothuparamba and in 1996 from Payyannur. Vijayan acquired the stature of a state-level leader after he was appointed as the state secretary of the CPM in 1998 following the death of the then secretary Chadayan Govindan.

He used the 17 years he headed the party to cultivate a group of loyalists. He built up his base in the party by eliminating rivals one by one and adding friends from the rival group headed by Achuthanandan, who in fact had promoted him as the state secretary.

Those who showed unwavering support to Achuthanandan were removed from party positions and his loyalists were packed in both the state secretariat and state committee by the time he relinquished the post in favour of his friend Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. This has come in good stead now.

Pinarayi, who perceived Achuthanandan as his rival, had tried to clip his wings by using the brute majority he enjoyed in the state forums. The state committee prior to the last party conference at Alappuzha in February last year even termed Achuthanandan as a leader with anti-party mentality. Vijayan had recalled the state committee resolution even during the present election campaign.

Vijayan’s opponents consider him as a bundle of contradictions. This is because of the contradictory positions he has taken on several occasions. Though he was in the forefront in opposing the self-financing colleges when A K Antony opened up the professional education to the private sector in 2002, he sent his daughter to a self-financing college and his son to a foreign university for higher education.

A palatial house he built in Kannur in early 2010 also remains as an example of his double-speak. His opponents describe him as a proletarian leader with a liking for capitalist lifestyle.

Vijayan’s elevation as chief minister can be embarrassing for the party if the High Court orders re-trial of the SNC Lavlin case. The chances cannot be ruled out as the court had observed that the CBI court’s decision to discharge Vijayan and other accused in the case without trial was legally untenable.

The court has resumed hearing in a pre-election petition filed by the UDF government for speedy disposal of the revision petitions filed by the CBI and others against Vijayan’s acquittal in the case. If the court allows the CBI plea for trial Vijayan may find the going tough.

Kerala: Chandy slams CPI(M) on resistance to prohibition

Thiruvananthapuram: Slamming CPI(M) for expressing reservations over total prohibition and instead batting for liqour abstinence, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said their aim was to do away with the Congress led UDF government’s liqour policy.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. File photo. IBN LiveKerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. File photo. IBN Live

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. File photo. IBN Live

“The UDF government has implemented a liqour policy without diluting it, while CPI(M) is keen to do away with it. But the people of the state will not allow this,” he said speaking at a UDF election convention at nearby Malayankeezhu. Chandy was reacting to the statement of CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan earlier in the day that total prohibition was not practical and if LDF comes to power, it would encourage abstinence.

Vijayan had said LDF would hold a campaign in the state with anti-liquor outfits on the ill effects of liquor and that CPI(M) was not a party that encourages liquor.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodieryi Balakrishnan had also said they were against total prohibition. KPCC President V M Sudheeran had also hit out at Vijayan, saying it shows the alleged nexus between the liqour lobby and CPI(M) leaders. Contending that liqour consumption in the state had dipped by about 24 per cent and alcohol consumption had also reduced, he said Bihar had imposed a total ban on liqour and people of Tamil nadu were also demanding a Kerala model liqour policy.

The UDF government’s liquor policy which came into force in 2014, restricted Indian Made Foreign Liquor bars to Five Star category hotels and shut down more than 700 other bars while envisaging total prohibition in ten years. The policy has become one of the major campaign planks in the May 16 Assembly polls.

Kerala Elections 2016: Oommen Chandy attacks CPI(M) over liqour policy

Slamming CPI(M) for expressing reservations over total prohibition and instead batting for liqour abstinence, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said their aim was to do away with the Congress led UDF government’s liqour policy.”The UDF government has implemented a liqour policy without diluting it, while CPI(M) is keen to do away with it. But the people of the state will not allow this,” he said speaking at a UDF election convention at nearby Malayankeezhu. Chandy was reacting to the statement of CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan earlier in the day that total prohibition was not practical and if LDF comes to power, it would encourage abstinence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vijayan had said LDF would hold a campaign in the state with anti-liquor outfits on the ill effects of liquor and that CPI(M) was not a party that encourages liquor.CPI(M) state secretary Kodieryi Balakrishnan had also said they were against total prohibition. KPCC President V M Sudheeran had also hit out at Vijayan, saying it shows the alleged nexus between the liqour lobby and CPI(M) leaders. Contending that liqour consumption in the state had dipped by about 24 per cent and alcohol consumption had also reduced, he said Bihar had imposed a total ban on liqour and people of Tamil nadu were also demanding a Kerala model liqour policy.The UDF government’s liquor policy which came into force in 2014, restricted Indian Made Foreign Liquor bars to Five Star category hotels and shut down more than 700 other bars while envisaging total prohibition in ten years. The policy has become one of the major campaign planks in the May 16 Assembly polls.

Kerala Assembly polls: Left campaigners launch ‘missed call’ campaign to woo voters

Thiruvananthapuram: Ahead of Kerala polls that are scheduled to be held on 16 May, Left leaders in Kerala have launched a ‘missed call campaign’ to reach out to voters, with the target especially being the youth.

93-year-old Marxist veteran and state opposition leader VS Achuthanandan and party politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan have launched the new mode of campaign in support of CPI(M)-led LDF candidates for the 16 May assembly polls.

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

Party sources said the campaign would not only create an awareness among voters to exercise their franchise in favour of LDF but also expose corruption in the five-year rule of Congress-UDF government led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Under the campaign, anybody can give a missed call from their phones to the campaign’s assigned mobile number. In return, the callers will get a recorded message of Achuthanandan and Vijayan.

Achuthanandan focuses on corruption under the UDF rule in his over 30 second-long message, while Vijayan asks people to vote for LDF for ‘responsible government and development.’

“I am VS Achuthanandan. Are you not fed up with corruption? It is the people’s dream that is getting shatteredwhen Rs 70 of the Rs 100 earmarked for development goes into someone’s pocket. This also results in blocking of the state’s development. This trend has to be stopped. Join LDF for a corruption-free Kerala,” the recorded message says.

Meanwhile, discussions are going on at different levels of the party on the finalisation of candidates list. LDF has already taken a decision to come out with its front manifesto
on 5 April.

PTI

Kerala Assembly Elections: CPI(M) to field Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan in polls

CPI-M’s state secretariat is understood to have accepted the recommendation of the party’s central leadership to field marxist veteran VS Achuthanandan and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in the May 16 assembly polls from the state, party sources said.The central leadership has recommended fielding both the leaders for the assembly polls and the state secretariat, which met here for the second day, is understood to have accepted the recommendation, the sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>93-year-old Achutanandan had represented Malampzuha constituency in Palakkad district three times– 2001, 2006 and 2011. Pinarayi Vijayan’s name was recommended by the party’s Kannur district unit, the sources said.Besides Vijayan, five other state Secretariat members- Thomas Issac, A K Balan, E P Jayarajan, T P Ramakrishnan and M M Mani, will be contesting the polls.After the two-day Secretariat meeting, the state committee will be held here tomorrow after which a final picture on the candidates is likely to emerge. CPI-M General secretary, Sitaram Yechury, senior leaders and politburo members Prakash Karat and S Ramachandran Pillai are among those attending the meeting.A three-day crucial meeting of the CPI(M) had commenced here yesterday to discuss various poll strategies, including whether or not to field Achuthanandan in the assembly polls. Party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had earlier stated that the party list will be released by March 20 along with that of other LDF partners.

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