The week that passed was bustling with political activities in Kerala, with semi speed rail “Silver Line” continuing to be a contentious issue. The CPI(M) facing agitation against the laying of “marking Stones” for the Silver line, has landed in much dispute with Culture and Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian mired in yet another controversy over his assets.
The Minister publicly proclaimed that he had assets worth Rs five crore whereas he only declared Rs 32 lakh assets in his affidavit to the Election Commission. This boiled into a a controversial political issue.
VOCIFEROUS BUT IN TROUBLE
The other day, Saji Cherian became vociferous while reacting to Former Minister and Kottayam MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishna. Radhakrishnan alleged that the alignment of Silver Line was changed for saving Saji Cherian’s house. He alleged that the alignment of the proposed railway line was altered in Mulakkuzha grama panchayat, Chengannur, as recently as December 2021 to exempt the Minister’s residence. To back his argument, he also showed sets of drawings of the railway line alignment. In reaction, Saji Cherian, who has become much vocal in the recent days, dashed out that he will only be happy to part with his five crore worth house for silver line. The money realised could be transferred to the account of Radhakrishnan with a request that the money should be given as charity to a Pain and Palliative Society in his home town.
The Opposition was quick in churning this into a controversy. Opposition leader V D Satheesan came out in the open asking the Minister himself to clarify how he had got Rs five crore asset after he became the Minister. The minister had only recorded Rs 32 lakh as assets in his affidavit, Satheesan said. The youth Congress is known to have filed a case against Cherian before the Vigilance and the Election Commission about the discrepancy.
CLOSE AIDE AND OBEDIENT FOR ALL CONTROVERSY
Cherian might had never thought that his loud talk would land him in such a state of affairs. Saji Cherian is a two-time legislator and was a surprise choice for a Cabinet Minister post in the second Pinarayi Vijayan government. There were several seasoned legislators more experienced in the race for the post. To say more, he has been inducted in the CPI(M) secretariat despite several other leaders in wait in the recent Party State Congress. He is known as a close aide of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Well, political circles say that it was not a joke when Opposition leader V D Satheesan alleged that Cheriyan and former Minister E P Jayarajan are placed in the forefront of the fight against the people in silver line issue, as they are the comedians in the durbar of Pinarayi Vijayan.
Cherian was seen to have become a bit talkative only after getting hold of a Minister’s post. Until then, he was just like all other district level leaders of the CPI(M). Once in the good books of Vijayan, he has started to take up all controversies into his fold. He is just a trojan Horse as some may say.
Even from the beginning, he was at the thick of controversy for the controversial remarks on Silver Line, Chyerian made a goof up when he said that there would be no buffer zone beside the K Rail Track. However, the K-Rail clarified saying that there was buffer zone along the track. Moreover, his party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishanan also had to correct Cherian, saying that there was a buffer zone. Saji Cherian even went further, portraying anti-Silver Line protesters as terrorists. He alleged that attempts to create a mutiny are happening in several places.
Soon after, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran came out against this” terrorist” usage. He slammed the Minister, stating that Saji Cherian, who had wailed in front of television cameras when floodwaters washed away his car, lacked sympathy for ordinary folk struggling to save their homes and ancestral land from acquisition, and even calling them terrorists.
Another controversy that did not have many takers was regarding the amount sanctioned for a washroom in the Minister’s office. When the government grants only Rs 4 lakh to build a house for the poor under its “Life Mission project”, it was alleged to have spent Rs 4.10 lakh for the washroom.
Cherian also had to face the ire in the much hyped “adoption of Anupama’s baby” case that had rocked the Party a few months ago. In the issue, Cherian’s controversial remarks were about how some individuals with immoral life shatter hopes of parents having girl children. The issue involves CPM linked individuals and there are allegations that government machinery initially tried to hush up the case.