Kerala: UDF with wafer-thin majority, expels ally from key post

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Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 8: Ending a week- long suspense, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy removed dissident Kerala Congress (M) Vice-Chairman P C George from the post of government Chief Whip.

The decision to boot out him came after Kerala Congress (M) chief K M Mani asked the chief minister to remove George over latter's embarrassing public statements on Mani's involvement in bar bribery case. 

Oommen Chandy

The decision to accept the demand of KC(M), led by Finance Minister K M Mani, was announced by Chandy after holding discussions with his senior cabinet colleagues P K Kunhalikutty and Ramesh Chennithala and George in Thiruvanthapuram on Tuesday night.

The rift between the two worsened last year soon after Mani was named as an accused by the vigilance department after whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh alleged that the finance minister was paid a bribe of Rs 1 crore for reopening closed bars in the state.

The decision may prove costly for the UDF, which only has a wafer-thin majority of 73 in the 140-member assembly. While opposition CPI-M led LDF has 65 members. KC(B), which recently quit UDF, has one member.

George, the six-time legislator from Poonjar in Kottayam, antagonised Mani when he went to the extent of asking Mani to quit as minister and face a probe. [Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani booked in Bar bribe case]

For the past two days, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues were trying to work out an amicable settlement between the two, but all efforts failed.

"We have been trying to reach a meeting point in this issue for the past few days. In a ruling coalition, the ground rule is that each party has the right to nominate its members to posts and also to withdraw.

"On March 26, Mani gave me a letter to drop George as the chief whip and also withdrawing him from the liaison committee of the ruling UDF. And since this is the convention, we accepted Mani's decision," Chandy told reporters on Tuesday night.

'It's pressure tactics'

George, known for his razor-sharp tongue, told reporters that Mani appeared to be threatening Chandy.

"Chandy asked me if I can resign. I said, no way. He told me Mani is not agreeing and said he has all the eight legislators backing him for taking action against me. I am going to call a public meeting on Thursday evening to explain why this happened to me," said George.

Will show my true colours: George

"The truth is they (Chandy government) want to hold the hand of a 'thief' and left my hands because I told the truth. I will remain in the party and the UDF and if anyone tries to forcefully throw me out, I will remain cool, but if they persist with it, then I will show my true colours," said George.

Saritha Nair denies charge

Solar scam accused Saritha S Nair has denied giving the letter to P C George and added that Jose K Mani, son of Finance Minister K M Mani, did not exploit her in any way.

George had claimed that he has in his custody Saritha's letter, accusing some political leaders of exploiting her.

A letter said to be written by Saritha while in prison, was aired some Malayalam television channels.

OneIndia News

(With agency inputs)

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