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Is this end of sordid political soap opera?

When you try to be over smart, you end up courting trouble. That is the fate which has befallen Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who finds himself in a devil of a political hole in the aftermath of the resignation of Forest Minister Ganesh Kumar.

To say that the sordid political soap opera, which has ended in the resignation of the Forest Minister, has shaken the United Democratic Front(UDF) and its government is only to state the obvious.

Although the minister has made its exit, the episode is showing no signs of an early end, with an aggressive Opposition gunning for the chief minister, who has emerged in poor light from the crisis. The Opposition has sought his resignation for misusing his position to help a ministerial colleague who has been accused of wife-bashing by the wife herself!

Here is a brief recapitulation of the events which climaxed in the minister’s resignation amid drama and high tension. The resignation followed the submission of a written complaint by his estranged wife, Yamini Thankachy, to the chief minister, and another complaint to the police. The minister had to go after the wife accused the chief minister himself of cheating her. When the Opposition also turned on the heat by accusing him of violating the oath of office, the CM developed cold feet and asked the Minister to put in his papers.

It all began with  the minister trying to outwit his wife  by filing a complaint with the police, accusing her of physical violence, an act which is violative of the agreement with her, alleges the wife.  He also released few photographs depicting the injuries he sustained in the alleged attack. In her complaint, Yamini has charged the minister with domestic violence for over 16 years. She said she had endured it all for the sake of the children. Relations between the two had come under severe strain after the minister’s extra-marital relations came to light.  The CM, whom she had met with a complaint refused to accept it. He sought another chance to sort out the problems. But the CM whom she ‘considered like a father’, also cheated her, Yamini alleged.

Meanwhile, the government has handed over the complaints by the minister and his wife to the crime branch. A special team headed by Uma Behra, IPS, and ADGP Winson M Paul will monitor the probe.

A jubilant opposition has lost no time in twisting the knife in the chief ministerial wound. The CM has all along been claiming that the minister’s wife had not given him a written complaint when she first met him on 7 March.  But that has been exposed for what it is: a lie, by the minister’s wife herself. At her press conference, she said the CM had asked her to give a letter to the effect that she had not given any formal written complaint to him! It was this letter which the CM read out in the State Assembly. And that amounted to misleading the House, says the Opposition LDF leaders, who accuse Chandy of not only misleading the House but also of misusing his position to protect a wife-basher colleague. No doubt, Chandy is in serious trouble. In his anxiety to save Ganesh, the CM has created problems for himself, politically as well as legally. If only he had accepted Yamini’s written complaint and forwarded to the police on the first day itself, Chandy would not have found himself in the tight spot he is in today. As per the provisions of the new ordinance, refusal to inform the police of even a verbal complaint of domestic violence is punishable with imprisonment up to six months.

That none of his ministerial colleagues, except Labour Minister Shibu John who played the mediator between the minister and his wife, came to his rescue while he was being grilled in the Assembly speaks volumes of Chandy’s isolation. Informed sources say the Cabinet itself is divided on the issue; some of his colleagues are said to be unhappy about the manner in which the CM handled the sensitive issue.

All that he has managed to do is to heap more misery and ignominy on the government. Some of them seem to think. The crisis is set to deepen as the Opposition has signalled his intent to up the ante on the issue. UDF politics has well and truly plummeted to a new low. And the government –  the Nair Service Society (NSS) has dubbed it a sinking ship – is headed for turbulent times. (IPA)
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