From P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A concerted move by the Indian Union Muslim League’s (IUML), riding high after securing a fifth ministerial berth in the Kerala Cabinet, to strengthen its hold on the Calicut University has suffered a major setback.
The setback is being construed as an offshoot of the IUML’s recent face-off with the Congress on the fifth minister issue. It is no secret that a large number of Congress leaders, including Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, are angry over the abject surrender to the IUML on the issue.
The IUML’s bid to tighten its grip on the University failed following vehement objection from two Congress members of the University syndicate to the allotment of University land to three organizations headed by relatives of top IUML leaders. In the face of opposition from the Congress members, the Calicut University Vie-Chancellor was forced to freeze the decision.
Three acres of land had been allotted to the Badminton Development Trust, headed by the father-in-law of state industries minister P. K. Kunhalikkuty to establish a badminton complex and allied facilities. Likewise, Grace Educational Association led by IUML president Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal himself, had been given 10 acres of varsity land to establish the CH Mohammed Koya Institute of Education and Research for developing societies at a cost of Rs 30 crore. The third beneficiary of the land allotment was the Kerala Olympics Association to set up a green sports complex in the University. This body is headed by the brother-in-law of Panchayats and Social Welfare Minister M K Muneer.
An interesting feature of the whole controversy is that while the Varsity V-C is on record that the state’s Education Minister was in the know of the land allotment decision, the latter has denied that he was aware of the development!
The controversy has given a big handle to the opposition Left Democratic front(LDF), which has lost no time in demanding the resignation of both the minister and the varsity V-C.
Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan has accused the IUML of trying to communalise and privatize the University.. The idea is to have a permanent IUML facility in the University, he alleged.
VS has also sent a letter to the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the University, to take action against the Vice Chancellor and Syndicate members who were trying to ‘alienate the university land’. Achuthanandan also wanted the Governor to dismiss the Syndicate, packed with members nominated by the UDF Government after dissolving the elected body.
Moreover, VS said the Syndicate meeting held on March 27 this year, had cleared applications for starting 36 self-financing colleges. Out of the 36 applications, as many as 28 came from a particular group, he added.
Needless to say, the controversy has pushed the IUML, luxuriating in a sense of hubris stemming from its success in getting a fifth ministerial berth, on the defensive. A section of the Congress, which was against conceding the IUML demand for a fifth minister, is understandably happy over the developments which have damaged the latter’s image and credibility. (IPA)