UDF sees political win in Jaleel’s resignation

LDF sees the development as of little political consequence

The United Democratic Front (UDF) seemed to portray Higher Education Minister K. T. Jaleel’s high-profile departure from the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet as a political win for the Congress-led opposition.

In contrast, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) seemed gratified that the Kerala Lok Ayukta order damning Mr.Jaleel for nepotism did not dent its election campaign.

Moreover, it reportedly felt the potentially damaging finding had manifested as a belated and arguably unavailing post-poll victory for the UDF. Mr. Jaleel’s resignation was arguably of little consequence for the LDF in the post-election scenario.

However, Congress, IUML and BJP have raised a subsidiary charge. They have accused Mr. Vijayan of endorsing Mr. Jaleel’s ‘wrongdoing’ in writing. The Opposition parties have called for the Chief Minister’ resignation.

Mr. Jaleel, an LDF Independent, was widely reckoned as the poster boy and point-man for the ruling front’s ambitious forays into the overwhelmingly pro-UDF Muslim community in North Kerala. The IUML had long reckoned him a thorn in its side. It had, not surprisingly, spearheaded the Lok Ayukta case against Mr. Jaleel.

By some accounts, behind-the-scenes political drama marked Mr. Jaleel’s resignation. The LDF initially ‘felt’ the government had till July to act on the Lok Ayukta’s finding. In the meantime, Mr. Jaleel could get relief against the damning decree from the High Court.

With Congress and BJP clamouring for his resignation, the LDF reportedly had a rethink. It indicated that public accountability was the LDF’s central electioneering plank. The CPI also dug its heels on the point.

The LDF drew Mr. Jaleel’s attention to the precedent set by Industries Minister E. P. Jayarajan and late NCP leader and Transport Minister Thomas Chandy.

Both had resigned in the wake of adverse remarks from the judiciary. So did Transport Minister A. K. Saseendran after a television channel accused him of engaging a woman in a lewd telephonic conversation. The LDF reportedly suggested Mr. Jaleel’s continuation in the cabinet was untenable.

The UDF and the BJP have rejected Mr. Jaleel’s attempt to ‘play the martyr.’ The Minister had resigned in shame and out of helplessness, they said.

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