National

Nepotism charge: Kerala Minister Jayarajan resigns

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 14, 2016

Kerala Industries and Sports Minister EP Jayarajan in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday   -  S Gopakumar

Kerala Industries and Sports Minister EP Jayarajan resigned on Friday following allegations that he had appointed his kin to key positions in public sector undertakings in the State.

CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan announced this to newspersons after a meeting of the party’s State secretariat that lasted two-and-a-half hours.

The industries portfolio will be taken over by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan till alternative arrangements are made, according to party sources.

The resourceful Jayarajan has been virtually the Number Two in the pecking order in the Pinarayi cabinet, and enjoyed the confidence of the Chief Minister like no other. The 66-year-old is one of the most prominent faces of the Kerala CPI(M), and a third-time legislator from Mattanur in the party stronghold of Kannur district.

Known to be the principal fund raiser of the party, he deftly led it in Kannur through many a vicissitude, not least of which were the frequent bust-ups with rival BIP.

But he has also been involved in unsavoury incidents after taking over charge as a minister, thanks mainly to his tendency to speak out of turn and context. It was only on Thursday that the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau had ordered a ‘quick verification’ (preliminary enquiry) into the charges against the Industries Minister.

Balakrishnan said Jayarajan had on Friday admitted to his ‘act of indiscretion’ and ‘lack of application of mind’ while recommending close relatives to key positions in government organisations.

According to Balakrishnan, Jayarajan’s act of renunciation was unparalleled, viewed against the track record of the previous Congress-led UDF government. At least eight ministers of the UDF government were brought under vigilance probe, but to no avail.

‘Not a setback’

Balakrishnan also targeted the BJP in this context. Many BJP leaders in Kerala are allegedly linked with what he described as the ‘petrol pump allotment’ scam; but none has been charged.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Jayarajan’s resignation is hardly a setback to the party in Kerala. The sort of closure achieved in the case only goes to prove how the government has been mature enough to deal with an as as-yet evolving case, he added.

Published on October 14, 2016
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