Kerala politics: Is UDF closing door on Pillai?
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Monday decided not to invite one of its founders, R Balakrishna Pillai, to its meeting to be held here Wednesday.
Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Monday decided not to invite one of its founders, R Balakrishna Pillai, to its meeting to be held here Wednesday.
UDF convenor PP Thankachen said that Pillai has not been invited.
The decision appears to have come after an audio conversation between him and whistle blower Biju Ramesh, a bar owner, came out in the open last week.
In it, Pillai is heard asking Ramesh to go ahead by filing a case in the Kerala High Court seeking a CBI probe into the bar graft allegation Ramesh levelled in October against State Finance Minister KM Mani. Ramesh said Mani was given Rs.1 crore as the first instalment of the Rs 5-crore bribe that he sought to help reopen bars in the state.
Since then, Mani and other senior leaders of his party and also from other allies have been demanding that Pillai's party Kerala Congress (Pillai), having just one legislator, KB Ganesh Kumar, who is also Pillai's son, should be booted out of the UDF.
Pillai and former chief minister K Karunakaran, among others, were the founders of the present-day UDF in the early 1980s.
On Sunday, Pillai resigned from the post of the chairman of the Kerala State Corporation for Forward Communities by sending his letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Last December, Ganesh Kumar turned villain on the floor of the Kerala assembly after alleging corruption was rampant in the office of State PWD minister VK Ebrahim Kunju.
After this, the UDF leadership decided not to invite Ganesh Kumar again to the UDF meetings.
The father and son duo are upset with the UDF leadership for not taking back Ganesh Kumar into the cabinet, from which he resigned after his then wife registered a case of domestic violence against him in 2013.
The 79-year-old Pillai has been having a long running feud with Chandy, after he was dropped from the cabinet in 2004 when the Chandy took over as chief minister after AK Antony stepped down from the post.
In 2006, Pillai lost the assembly polls and when CPI-M leader VS Achuthanandan became the chief minister, Pillai was jailed for a year over an old case in 2011. Hence, he could not contest the 2011 polls.
Meanwhile, the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front appears to be keeping its options open about taking Pillai's party into the LDF.
"First let the UDF take a decision, then we can see," CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters Monday.
Now all eyes are on the UDF's Wednesday meet. If Pillai is booted out, Chandy's support in the 140-member Kerala assembly will come down by one to 74.
Also keenly watched would be Achuthanandan's stand, if Pillai gets an invite from the LDF.