KL This Week: LDF Condemns Rahul Gandhi's Disqualification, Congress Seeks CPI(M)’s Support for By-election
Image credit: R Prakash
NewsClick brings you a round-up of important happenings in Kerala during the week including the protest against the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a Member of Parliament (MP) representing Wayanad, the appointment of 500 tribals as the beat officers in the forest department and increasing number of wildfires in several areas.
UNIFIED OPPOSITION TO RAHUL GANDHI’S DISQUALIFICATION
The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi has received widespread condemnation from the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). CM Pinarayi Vijayan accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of destroying the leaders from the opposition. He claimed that the disqualification is an attack on democracy.
The Congress party took out rallies and protests across the state against the disqualification. The effigies of PM Narendra Modi were also burnt during the protest.
However, a clash among Congress members erupted in Kalpetta in Wayanad after members of different factions reportedly pushed and pulled over occupying the front row during the protest.
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) K Sudhakaran MP sought support from the CPl(M) for the by-election even as the Congress leadership is exploring the possibility of appealing against the verdict. The Congress looks dismayed and is restricting itself to electoral issues.
SETBACK FOR GOVERNOR ARIF MOHAMMED KHAN
The High Court of Kerala dismissed the order of the Governor, Arif Mohammad Khan, removing 15 members from the senate of the University of Kerala. The court also blocked the Governor from appointing new members to the senate.
The high court verdict is considered a setback for the Governor, as the high court had quashed his decision to withdraw members from the search panel for a new vice chancellor to the University of Kerala and the formation of the search panel by the Governor himself.
The governor, in a shocking move, removed the 15 senate members on October 15, 2022, in his capacity as the Chancellor of the state universities. The tussle between the governor and the elected government has hit the higher education department in the appointment of faculty and VCs to the universities.
500 TRIBALS APPOINTED AS BEAT OFFICERS
The department of forest, in a first-of-its-kind move, has appointed 500 members including 100 women as beat forest officers (BFO). The department has been contemplating the idea of employing tribals for the work considering their experience in affairs related to the forest for the past few years.
The appointment orders were handed over to the new recruits by the chief minister on March 21, observed as the International Day of Forests. A special recruitment drive was conducted by the public service commission (PSC) to appoint members from the tribal community as BFOs.
The officers will be responsible for enforcing guidelines of environmental sustainability, improving the livelihood of forest-dependent neighbourhoods, shield plants and creatures.
WILDFIRE INCIDENTS ON THE RISE
The number of wildfire incidents has been increasing in the state, partially due to the increasing temperature. As against 95 incidents of wildfire in January 2023, the department of fire and rescue recorded 302 such incidents in February 2023. The department has been busy dousing fire-related accidents as the number of incidents has increased from 1,546 to 2,985 in the same period.
The number of incidents in the Thrissur district is particularly high, with a recent fire damaging around 100 acres. Another incident near Chelakkara in Thrissur damaged five hectares of protected forest during the first week of March. The forest and fire and rescue departments are on high alert to report and control wildfire incidents.
CHURCH MOUTHPIECE CONDEMNS BISHOP FOR OFFER TO BJP
The weekly magazine of the Ernakulam Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church strongly criticised the Archbishop of Tellicherry for his offer to support the BJP. The editorial in Sathyadeepam claimed that the statement of the bishop was made without considering the crisis faced by the rubber farmers and cultivators.
Archbishop Mar Joseph Mamplany had pledged support to BJP if the rubber price per kg was fixed at Rs 300. The ruling LDF and opposition UDF rejected such possibilities considering the import policies of the Union government leading to the downfall of natural rubber produced in the state. Read More
CPI(M) MLA DISQUALIFIED
The Kerala High Court disqualified the MLA representing the Devikulam reserved constituency, A Raja, of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]. The court found him ineligible to contest the reserved seat since he had converted to Christianity. The case was filed by the UDF candidate D Kumar who lost the 2021 Assembly election to Raja.
The verdict was pronounced on March 21 and the court granted 10 days’ time to approach the Supreme Court with an appeal. The number of MLAs of the ruling LDF was reduced to 98 with the disqualification in the 140-member house.
IUML ELECTS GENERAL SECRETARY AMIDST INTERNAL SCUFFLES
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) Kerala state unit reelected P M A Salam as the general secretary after some internal scuffles were reported within the party. He was officiating as the general secretary after K P A Majeed contested in the 2021 assembly elections.
M K Muneer, former minister and MLA reportedly contested the post, but withdrew due to lack of support. Other office bearers were also elected unanimously in the general council of the party held in Kozhikode.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.