Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy resigns over land-grab charges

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Kerala transport minister Thomas Chandy resigns over land-grab charges

Millionaire businessman-turned-politician Thomas Chandy resigned as Kerala’s transport minister today amid mounting pressure over land-grab charges against him.

Chandy’s resignation came a day after the Kerala high court severely reprimanded him over the land-grab charges and questioned his continuance in the Pinarayi Vijayan government.

Chandy’s company allegedly violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district. Last week, a vigilance court also ordered a probe into the charges. The Alapuzha district collector had submitted a report against him.

“These are all trumped up charges. I will come out clean,” he said after quitting. Sources said Chandy agreed to put in his papers only after the chief minister promised to give back his berth once he is exonerated by the court.

Chandy said he will move the Supreme Court and expressed confidence of returning to the ministry after getting a favourable verdict.

He is the third minister to quit the Pinarayi government that came to power in May last year.

The minister was clinging on to power citing many technicalities but was finally forced to quit after allies questioned his continuance in the government. Four ministers of the CPI boycotted a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, considered an unusual step.

Despite mounting pressure from the ruling allies and many senior leaders including veteran V S Achuthanandan, the chief minister continued to defend him in public.

The Viajayan government came to power riding on a wave of public anger over alleged corruption by the previous Congress-led regime.

An expatriate businessman, Chandy was inducted into the Pinarayi government in April following the resignation of minister AK Saseendran in the wake of an alleged telephone sleaze scandal involving a woman journalist.