Kerala Minister Thomas Chandy, Indicted For Land-Grabbing, Resigns

Kerala Minister Thomas Chandy has resigned amid allegations of corruption, which were confirmed by a court on Tuesday. He is the third minister to resign since the Left-led government came to power last year.

Mr Chandy, Kerala’s richest lawmaker with Rs. 92 crore in declared wealth, is accused of grabbing farm land illegally. A government official had said in a report last month that land marked for paddy had been illegally taken over by a resort owned by the Transport Minister.

Mr Chandy had challenged the incriminating report in the High Court.

The court yesterday sided with the report and tore into the minister for petitioning against his own government: “The act of the minister amounts to violation of collective cabinet responsibility,” it said.

The legal setback reinforced opposition calls for Mr Chandy’s resignation.

The minister had said: “If there is an observation against me in the verdict, no doubt, I will quit.”
Mr Chandy belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party, an ally of the CPM, which leads the coalition government in Kerala.

The land is near the backwaters in Alappuzha district, around 150 km from Thiruvananthapuram. The district collector had said in the report that Mr Chandy’s Lake Palace Resort had diverted a stream and taken over farm land to build a road and a parking lot.

A whistleblower and former Left supporter, Vinod, had first alleged that the resort that Mr Chandy owns has been illegally developing a part along the lake Vembanad, one of the largest in India.

Mr Vijayan took over as Chief Minister last year; two ministers have been forced to quit since then. EP Jayarajan quit over alleged nepotism. AK Saseendran from Mr Chandy’s party was recorded allegedly having phone sex and the conversation was aired on a local channel. Mr Chandy had replaced him in the cabinet in April.

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