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Kerala ruling party in a squeeze as nepotism knot tightens

Jayarajan reportedly snubbed by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: Hardly five months after assuming power, Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government has been pushed into a corner following a series of nepotism allegations against senior leaders, including industry minister E.P. Jayarajan.

The state cabinet met in a sombre mood on Thursday as the knot seemed to tighten around senior Communist Party of India Marxist leader Jayarajan, with the vigilance and anticorruption department seeking legal advice for conducting investigations into nepotism allegations against him.

Jayarajan was reportedly snubbed by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan during the cabinet meeting on Thursday, when the minister tried to explain his position regarding the allegations.

The minister is facing flak over the appointment of Deepthi Nishad — daughter-in-law of his brother E.P. Bhargavan — as the general manager of Kerala Clays and Ceramics Products, a state government enterprise.

Another controversial appointment was that of Sudheer Nambiar, son of CPM leader and MP P.K. Sreemathy, as the managing director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises, another government enterprise.

Following the exposes of the appointments, both appointments have been annulled but a string of other appointments smacking of nepotism has been revealed, pushing the CPM to a corner.

The development is particularly embarrassing for the CPM after an election campaign in which it was constantly highlighting alleged corruption cases against the opposition United Democratic Front leaders.

Jayarajan’s position has been weakened after the coalition parties in the LDF also took a stand against him. An editorial in Janayugam, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India, said nepotism was indeed corruption, and that it could not be interpreted any other way.

The CPI is of the opinion that the government should take a decision on Jayarajan before the matter is dragged to the law courts.

Speculation about Jayarajan’s resignation was rife after he met CPM state secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan twice on Wednesday. The central committee of the party is also reportedly against the continuance of Jayarajan if the vigilance department starts an investigation against him.