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Mani behind calendar row: P.C. Thomas

K. Venkiteswaran

KOCHI, APRIL 17. The Union Minister of State for Law and Justice and the NDA candidate for the Muvattupuzha Lok Sabha constituency, P.C. Thomas, has joined issue with the Revenue Minister, K.M. Mani, for raking up a controversy in the name of a religious calendar.

Talking to The Hindu at Muvattupuzha today, Mr. Thomas said there was no such controversy except for the one propped up by Mr. Mani. This, he said, would become an advantage to him in the campaign. He said the calendar in question was printed by a voluntary organisation months before the elections.

"I was sent as an official representative to Vatican to attend Mother Teresa's beatification. Mother Teresa has been considered a symbol of selfless service. The country is proud of that service. When the country sent a representative there, it was highlighted by the media. There is nothing wrong if a voluntary organisation has brought out a calendar on that," he said.

The Minister scoffed at thinking of Mr. Mani that Christianity was under his toes. The NDA Government had been vigilant enough to send a representative to Vatican and had gained a good name in the comity of the nations, and amongst Christians. The Christian community had full confidence in the NDA Government, he said.

"It is just to give a twist to the happenings that such an allegation is being raised now," he said. This gained importance now because no one knew about such a calendar. It is through the Kerala Congress (M) MLAs that people came to know about such a calendar. ``Now several people are coming and asking me for a calendar,'' Mr. Thomas said.

The Ernakulam district administration has forwarded a complaint to the State Election Commission regarding the distribution of the religious calendar alleging that it is being used for electioneering in the Muvattupuzha constituency. The Kerala Congress (M) had filed a complaint at the district election office alleging that the Union Minister had misused his office.

Mr. Thomas said his stint as a Union Minister for the last eight months had helped the State in getting 11 "fast track courts". The State had not been thinking about such courts. When he had proposed about more such courts, the High Court and the State Government, whose concurrence were required, were not happy in the beginning, he said.

The Government had adopted a stand that in future these courts would be a financial burden. The High Court had opined that cases in the fast track courts would be over soon and such courts are not needed. But the Minister's stand was that more and more cases could be transferred to these fast track courts. Senior citizens' cases, old civil cases and new cases could be transferred to the fast track courts.

The High Court then agreed, though for political reasons the State Government continued to be reluctant. The Minister said he talked to the Chief Minister and the Judicial Secretary, who is the Home Secretary here. Sanction has been accorded, but there was delay in setting up the same.

He claimed that some non-judicial and developmental issues and sufferings of the farmers had been brought to the attention of the Union Government during his tenure which would benefit the State in the long run.

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