Thiruvananthapuram: Ahead of the May 16 Assembly polls, Kerala's Congress-led UDF government and the Pradesh Congress Committee seem to be at loggerheads over an order to accept basic tax for 833 acres of land from a private estate owner.
Hours after the state cabinet decided to virtually keep in abeyance the order to collect tax from the private estate at Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district, KPCC President V M Sudheeran demanded that the government withdraw the impugned order to avoid any unnecessary debate and remove doubts from the minds of the people.
Talking to reporters after a Congress leadership and election committee meeting here, he said the party had earlier itself warned the government to desist from issuing any 'controversial orders'.
"KPCC asks government and the Revenue Minister to withdraw the order in this regard," he said, adding the decision to amend the earlier order was a welcome gesture.
He mentioned the two letters he had written requesting the government to reconsider the controversial order.
Sudheeran also criticised the public statement of Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash that government cannot withdraw the order after a recent high power committee meeting attended by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy took a decision.
It was a mistake on the part of the minister to make such a statement. It was his duty to explain the government stand to the Party President, who had given a letter in this regard," he said, indicating the sharp differences between the party and government on the issue.
However, the KPCC president maintained that the party's intervention on the issue was with 'good intention' to rectify mistakes and drawbacks. "It is the dharma and responsibility of the party to point out mistakes and drawback of government."
Sudheeran said the government should have avoided such an order as it had taken a strong stand that the land in possession of the estate was government land and filed an affidavit in the court in this regard.
He also wanted the government to reconsider another G.O., giving exemption from Land Reforms Act to a private estate owner at Peerumedu in Idukki district.
Sudheeran said government should have cleared controversies, particularly when UDF has a bright chance to return to power due to its 'achievements'.
It had also been pointed out that the G.O to collect tax from the owner, whose possessory land is under question, would weaken government position in similar cases pending in courts.
Earlier, Chandy told reporters after a cabinet meeting that basic tax would be accepted only after the final verdict in a case pending in the High Court over dispute on the land ownership.
He said government decision was in the wake of row over it.
There were charges that the land in question was public land.
Chandy justified the order and said that four conditions were prescribed for accepting the tax.
The order itself had stated that tax acceptance would be subject to the result of the petition pending before the High Court, he said.
It also wanted the Village Officer to examine documents to establish ownership of the land and validity of the earlier transactions, he said.
Last week, government had revoked two controversial orders according sanction to a Tourism and Medi City project that required reclamation of 'kayal backwaters' and paddy fields, following widespread criticism.
CPI(M) led LDF and BJP in Kerala have taken controversies connected to land issues as a weapon to attack the government in the run-up to polls.