KL This Week: CM Lashes Out at Governor, Sporadic Violence During PFI Hartal
Image courtesy: R Prakash.
Despite the worsening ties with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, the governor on September 21 signed 5 of the 11 Bills passed by the Assembly with the ones seeking amendments to the Lokayukta and university laws put on hold.
The Bills were signed two days after governor Arif Mohammed Khan held a controversial press conference attacking the state government. Subsequently, chief minister (CM) Pinarayi Vijayan launched a scathing attack on Khan and accused him of acting as an “agent” of the Union government. Two days before the press conference, the governor had met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on September 19.
The dawn-to-dusk strike called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) after the raids and arrests by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) turned violent at several places, causing damage to public transport.
Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra courted controversy after a banner displaying pictures of freedom fighters put up by party members included VD Savarkar’s image. The yatra was suspended on September 23 following the PFI’s strike call.
The police arrested a Youth Congress worker involved in the attack on AKG Bhavan, the state committee office of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). An RSS worker was also arrested for an attack on the party’s Kozhikode district committee office in 2017. Newsclick brings a round-up of the happenings in the state this week.
GOVERNOR-CM TUSSLE INTENSIFIES
Breaking convention, Khan held a press meet during which he accused the LDF of exerting pressure on him to sign certain Bills and said there was a “conspiracy to silence him” during the Indian History Congress at Kannur University as early as 2019.
The governor accused renowned historian Irfan Habib and Vijayan’s political secretary and former Rajya Sabha member KK Ragesh of trying to silence him during the 2019 event.
The Bhagwat-Khan meeting was ridiculed by both the state ruling party and the Opposition. The governor addressed the press conference after the meeting but claimed the interaction was personal.
The CPI(M) and the LDF leadership accused the governor of belittling the constitutional office. Vijayan, in response to the governor’s allegations, listed out the interventions of the governor in governance and accused him of being an “agent” of the Union government. The relations between the governor and the government continue to worsen as allegations and counter-allegations have been continuing for months.
BUSES DAMAGED IN VIOLENCE DURING PFI STRIKE
The September 23 PFI strike turned violent at several places and with damage caused public transport.
As many as 157 cases were filed and 170 people were arrested for causing ruckus and forcing shopkeepers to down the shutters. Around 350 people has been detained earlier as a preventive measure.
According to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), 51 buses were damaged during the strike, leading to loss of around Rs 30 lakh. Eleven employees sustained injuries due to stone-pelting and in other incidents. While private bus operators decided to stay off the road, KSRTC operated most of its buses.
The Kerala High Court, after taking suo motu cognisance of the strike, has ordered to recover losses incurred by the KSRTC from the protestors.
In Payyanur, Kannur district, PFI members were manhandled by shopkeepers and headload workers for forcing them to down shutters.
SAVARKAR IMAGE INCLUDED BY CONGRESS WORKERS
Congress members included Savarkar’s image in a banner erected welcoming Rahul and the Bharat Jodo Yatra, leaving the party red-faced. The image was later replaced with a Mahatma Gandhi portrait.
The incident happened in Chemangad panchayat, Ernakulam district. The party later suspended an Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) leader for using Savarkar’s image.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that the Congress and Rahul have realised Savarkar’s “significance” in the freedom movement.
INCREASE IN FEVER, COVID-19 CASES
The number of COVID-19 and fever cases has increased in the last couple of weeks following the celebration of Onam two years after the pandemic. The number of cases increased from 30%-35% after the festival during the second week of September.
Cases of infection, reinfection and hospitalisation of senior citizens have also increased due to less number of people wearing masks.
ED ACCUSES THOMAS ISAAC OF EVADING QUESTIONING
In a submission in the Kerala High Court, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleged that Thomas Isaac has been attempting to stay away from the investigation. The former finance minister had approached the court seeking the accusations against him and was exempted from appearing before the ED.
The Central agency had earlier summoned Isaac on money laundering charges in masala bonds issued by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). Thomas and the LDF have accused the Centre of using Central investigative agencies to threaten its leaders in the state.
The LDF government had also accused the BJP government of targeting KIIFB, which is being used to implement several development projects in the state.
CONGRESS, RSS WORKERS ARRESTED
The police arrested Youth Congress leader Jithin Kalathur in connection with the explosives attack on AKG Centre, the CPI(M) Kerala state committee office. He has been functioning as the constituency president of the Youth Congress in Thiruvananthapuram district. The attacker was on the run after throwing explosives at the office on June 30.
In a five-year-old case, the Kozhikode Police arrested an RSS worker in connection with an attack on CPI(M) district committee office in 2017. The suspect was nabbed from Cochin International Airport while returning from Dubai.
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