HIGH PRICE OF POWER
Coalition partner engages in rampant corruption as helpless Congress looks on
Close on the heels of wringing a fifth Cabinet berth from the ruling United Democratic Front ( UDF) government in Kerala, coalition partner Indian Union Muslim League ( IUML) has embarrassed the 11- month- old government again. This time, it’s because IUML, which holds the education ministry, got 43 acres of prime land alloted in Kozhikode free of cost to three private organisations headed by prominent leaders or their close relatives.
The land is part of Calicut University’s Rs 100- crore infrastructure development plan called the Green Sports Complex. The allotment, which was made without inviting tenders, was decided in March by the university’s syndicate, which is dominated by IUML nominees. The university’s Vice- Chancellor A. Abdus Salam is also a League nominee. After a public outcry, the syndicate held a meeting on April 24 and cancelled the deals. Out of the 43 acres, 30 was to be gifted to Kerala Olympic Association ( KOA), to be jointly developed by the university and the state government. KOA Secretary P. K. Hamza is the brother- in- law of Minister for Local Administration and Social Welfare and prominent IUML leader M. K. Muneer.
The state government has distanced itself from the controversy. Even P. K. Abdu Rabb, education minister from IUML, said that neither his ministry nor the government was aware of the land deal and has asked for an inquiry. The league leadership also said that the party was unaware of the deals. But Salam says IUML knew about it. Opposition Left Democratic Front ( LDF) has appealed to Governor H. R. Bhardwaj to sack the vice- chancellor and the pro- LDF student organisations have launched an agitation demanding an investigation. However, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has come to the League’s rescue, saying that there was no need of a probe since the deal has been scrapped and no land was given away. “Chandy’s only concern is to stick to the chief minister’s seat,” charges CPI( M) leader V. S. Achuthanandan.
The development might hamper UDF’S chances in the June 2 by- election to the Neyyattinkara Assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district. After the League got its fifth berth, the total number of minority community members has overtaken that of the Hindus in the 21 member- Cabinet. This has already angered BJP and proUDF Hindu caste organisations like Nair Service Society ( NSS) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalanayogam. NSS says that it would keep equidistance from both UDF and LDF.
“Deals with private parties were entered into only because of the university’s financial constraints. “
CALICUT UNIVERSITY CAMPUS