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Kerala CM is opposition target after minister’s domestic violence row

Issue leads to a full-blown crisis for the ruling United Democratic Front in Kerala

Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
K B Ganesh Kumar
Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: After a midnight drama that featured Kerala forest and environment minister and film star KB Ganesh and his wife Yamini Thankachy accusing each other of domestic violence, the political reverberations echoed this morning in the state assembly, leading to a full-blown crisis for the ruling United Democratic Front in Kerala.

As matters moved from bad to ugly for the ruling front, the Opposition Left Democratic Front has mounted an all-out attack against chief minister Oommen Chandy, demanding his resignation.

Thankachy had on Monday accused the chief minister of refusing to accept her petition against her husband and minister Ganesh Kumar when she met the CM last month.

Matters came to a head for Kumar on Monday when his wife made shocking allegations about his abuse at home, and a bandaged right wrist added latent strength to her arguments.

Thankachy has also alleged her husband of having extra-marital relations. Kumar countered that by stating it was his wife who had been physically battering him, adding that his personal staff and domestic help were all witnesses to Thankachy assaulting him.

As local television channels kept up continuous coverage of the ugly details of the minister’s domestic affairs for hours on end, Kumar finally succumbed to pressure and put in his resignation by midnight. That, however, has not spelt the end of troubles for the UDF as the Opposition continued to keep the heat on the government in the state assembly today.

Opposition deputy leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan moved for an adjournment motion on the Kumar issue in the state assembly today. The Opposition’s main contention was that the chief minister had misled the House regarding Thankachy’s petition to him. The CM had earlier informed the House that he had not received any written petition from Thankachy, but Opposition benches waved newspapers with Thankachy’s statement that the CM had in fact refused to accept her petition.

The CM clarified that he stood by his earlier statement, and the Speaker refused permission for an adjournment motion, pointing out that the Opposition could raise the matter during zero hour. Dissatisfied by the ruling, the Opposition benches staged a walkout.

Chandy clarified that when Thankachy first met him, she had said she considered him like a father figure, and that he too had tried to sort out the domestic squabble of his minister from a paternal viewpoint.

Outside the House, there was more political trouble for Chandy, as Kumar’s father R Balakrishna Pillai also criticised the CM for the manner in which he handled the issue. In another setback to the government, Nair Service Society general secretary G Sukumaran Nair blamed the CM and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala for making a mess of the Ganesh Kumar affair. Nair said if the CM and the KPCC president had made a timely intervention, matters would not have reached this stage.