In the worst crisis faced by the 142-day-old Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala, a key cabinet member and Industries minister E P Jayarajan resigned today in the wake of the raging row over appointment of his nephew to a key post in a state PSU.
The decision to permit Jayarajan, a Central committee member, to resign was taken at the nearly two-and-a-half hour long state Secretariat meeting here this morning in the presence of CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Over the past few days government has been under attack from opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP over appointments of Jayarajan's close relatives on key posts in Public Sector units.
Jayarajan, considered number two in cabinet and close to Chief Minister Vijayan, had appointed his nephew P K Sudheer, son of P K Sremathi, party MP from Kannur and another Central Committee member and Deepthi Nishad, daughter-in law of his brother as Managing Director and General Manager respectively.
His continuation as minister became untenable as a majority of state secretariat members voiced concern over the development as the issue could dent the image of the LDF government, which had come to power promising a transparent and corruption free governance.
Announcing the Secretariat's decision, Balakrishnan told reporters that Jayarajan had wanted to resign to"uphold the party's image and set an exemplary model in contrast to the previous Congress-led UDF government".
"CPI(M) is against any illegal appointments. However, the party does not think that being a relative of a leader is a disqualification to get a job in government service," he said.
Putting up a brave face, he also attacked Congress-led UDF and BJP government at the Centre, alleging that their ministers were involved in controversies, but none of them had resigned.
Pointing out that despite being dogged by controversies, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundara Raje Scindia had not resigned, Balakrishan said the BJP had in fact 'protected' them.
Attacking the UDF,he said the Front had amended a law to appoint relatives of ministers.
The present decision of CPI(M) is to make clear that "our stand is different from that of UDF and BJP".
Asked if the controversy had dented the government's image, he said: "Do you think the Pinarayi government's image will be dented with an appointment controversy?"
CPI(M) was of the opinion that alleged irregularities in appointments during the term of the previous UDF government should also be investigated, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he had received Jayarajan's resignation letter.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)