Thiruvananthapuram: With the CPM and NCP leadership neither defending nor opposing Minister for Forests A Saseendran in the phone call controversy, his continuation in the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet hangs in the balance.
While apprising Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and NCP state president P C Chacko about his side of the story, Saseendran justified the phone call made to the father of a woman who was sexually harassed by his party colleague in Kollam. However, at a time when women's safety is a burning topic in Kerala, nobody would dare to publicly defend the minister's action.
With the assembly session scheduled to begin from Thursday, Saseendran's position is likely to become untenable.
NCP wrangles behind row?
The minister told the chief minister that his phone conversation was deliberately recorded and misused because of factional spats in the party, NCP, and the animosity harboured by a section of the party against him.
The minister maintained that he called up the woman's father following a request made by NCP leaders from Kollam close to him. Saseendran said the leaders told him that if he didn't intervene in the matter, the accused NCP executive committee member G Padmakaran would commit suicide.
NCP leadership believes that attempts were made by a section in the party to increase animosity between Padmakaran and the woman's father, who is a block committee leader of the party in Kundara. At the same time efforts were also made by another section to resolve the issue.
With the woman registering a complaint with the police, attempts were made to rope in Saseendran for reaching a comprise on the matter. Subsequently, the minister called her father from Kozhikode and directed him to "settle the matter amicably."
The NCP leadership has reportedly decided that Saseendran's explanation should be accepted for the time being. However, instead of probing the allegations against the minister, the leaders are more keen on addressing the internal differences in the party.
The CPM which heads the ruling Left Democratic Front is yet to make its stand clear on the issue. A section of CPM leaders wants the NCP to look into the issue in detail.
Meanwhile, NCP's other MLA Thomas K Thomas has came out in Saseendran's support.
Saseendran had quit earlier over a sleaze call
This is the second time that Saseendran is caught in a phone call controversy. He was forced to resign from the previous Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet after a TV channel did a sting operation airing his sleaze talk with a woman. Later he returned to the Cabinet after his name was cleared by the probe panel.