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Row over Chandy’s Kannur visit

Girish Menon

Election Commission serves notice on him, court directs police to book him

Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy is finding himself at the centre of a controversy over his visit to Kannur on April 16 when the elections to the Lok Sabha were on.

The Election Commission’s notice seeking an explanation from him and the Kannur Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-II’s direction to the police to book him and K. Sudhakaran, MLA and Kannur Lok Sabha candidate of the Congress, on a complaint of the violation of the Representation of the People Act have given a new dimension to the Kannur visit.

Mr. Chandy, who confirmed receipt of the Election Commission’s notice, said he would give his reply on Thursday. He reiterated his earlier stance that there was no secret in his Kannur visit and that he had informed the police officers concerned of his visit.

CPI(M) allegation

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had alleged that Mr. Chandy had dashed to Kannur by helicopter on the election day as part of a larger conspiracy to disrupt polling. It also alleged that hit men were hired to create problems. The police had arrested three United Democratic Front workers on charges of attempts to disrupt polling. Mr. Sudhakaran had staged a 12-hour sit-in in a local police station to secure the release of the three arrested. Mr. Chandy, at a press conference recently, said he has been to Kannur to ensure the medical treatment of those hospitalised in election violence. The charge that he had violated the code of conduct was baseless. He had taken due precaution, since his travel to Kannur was undertaken on election day, he said.

The developments clearly indicate that Kannur is in for another bout of political problems in a highly charged situation. Apart from Mr. Sudhakaran, the CPI(M) is apparently gunning for its expelled MP A.P. Abdullakutty, sources in the Congress said. In retaliation, the Opposition has demanded a probe into the injury sustained by CPI(M) MLA P. Jayarajan’s son Ashish Jayarajan, alleged in a bomb blast. Mr. Jayarajan has clarified that his son was injured in a cracker blast sustained during Vishu festivities.

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