LDF, UDF in Kerala face heat over MBBS admission bill
Bengaluru: Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) have been criticized after they passed a bill with near unanimous approval in the legislative assembly last week, seeking to regularize controversial medical admissions in two private colleges.
The Kerala Professional Colleges (Regulation and Admission in Medical Colleges) Bill 2017 was passed on Wednesday, mainly to benefit about 180 students of the 2016-17 batch at Kannur Medical College and Karuna Medical College, whose admissions had been cancelled by two official panels, as well as the Medical Council of India, Kerala high court and Supreme Court.
Kerala governor P. Sathasivam returned the bill without approval on Saturday, putting both political fronts in a spot. The governor withheld his assent because of a Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that upheld an earlier Kerala high court order, where the admissions were cancelled because of the flawed manner in which they were conducted. The Supreme Court came down heavily on the state government saying it was trying to subvert the court by passing legislation, and stayed an ordinance which led to the bill.
The series of developments has prompted severe criticism against both fronts, both from within and outside. The ruling communists, who had battled it out on the streets in the past to oppose unfair practices in private medical colleges, are questioned about the hurried regularization of admissions which the admission supervisory committee had cancelled.
“Is there any connection between what we said in the past and what we did now?” asked K.V. Vasu, father of the late communist icon Roshan, in a Facebook post in Malayalam on Sunday, which was widely shared by many and also picked up by regional media houses.
In the Congress camp, senior leader A.K. Anthony and former state president V.M. Sudheeran flayed the leadership for supporting the bill in the house.
On Sunday, another senior leader Benny Behnan alleged that the whole development smacks of large-scale corruption and should be probed.
V.T. Balram, the sole Congress member who opposed the bill, has also become a polarizing figure. He was criticized by a section of the party leaders, but praised by many on social media.
The setbacks have also made the future of the bill uncertain. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said his government does not want to pick a fight with the Supreme Court, suggesting the bill would be freezed to prevent further legal setbacks. The future course of actions, Vijayan said on Saturday after the governor returned the bill, will be discussed after further talks with the opposition.
However, on Sunday, Congress made it clear that it is not keen on supporting the bill any longer.
“Since the Supreme Court and the Governor had pointed out the legal issues concerning the Bill, further dialogue with the state government does not have any relevance,” Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said in a statement on Sunday night.
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