HIGH PRICE OF POWER

Coali­tion part­ner en­gages in ram­pant cor­rup­tion as help­less Congress looks on

India Today - - NATION - By M. G. Rad­hakr­ish­nan

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

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