Septuagenarian Kerala Minister resigns over obscene talk

Septuagenarian Kerala Minister resigns over obscene talk

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Kozhikode:  In a major embarrassment to the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government in Kerala, Transport Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader A K Saseendran today tendered his resignation from the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet after allegations of obscene talk with a woman. The septuagenarian minister announced his resignation in a hurriedly convened press conference, after cutting short his official engagements, following a newly-launched television channel 'Mangalam' aired an audio clip in which Mr Saseendran is heard having a lewd conversation with a woman who approached him for official matters. Seventy one-year-old Saseendran, a five time legislator, said ''though I have not committed any mistake, I am stepping down to protect dignity of my party and ruling front.'' ''The resignation may not be considered that I am admitting the crime. I have not done anything that is against my morality,'' he said. Apparently hinting a conspiracy behind the issue, he said let the Chief Minister order a probe into entire gamut of the issue. However, no formal complaint has been lodged by the victim so far. The resignation came after the Chief Minister made it clear that he would look into the allegations seriously and promised action. Mr Saseendran became the second minister to step down from the eleven-month-old Pinarayi Vijayan. Earlier, senior CPI(M) leader E P Jayarajan, who was holding the portfolio of Industries, has stepped down in October after allegations that he appointed his family members as heads of public sector undertakings. The NCP has two members in the Kerala Assembly and it is not known immediately whether the second member Thomas Chandy will be given a Cabinet berth. The controversy that erupted during the electioneering to the Malappuram Lok Sabha by-poll came as a major blow to the LDF Government which is also facing allegations that incidence of atrocities against women in Kerala were on the rise during the recent past. Mr Saseendran entered politics through the student movement as leader of the Kerala Students Union. He was the general secretary of the Union between 1967 and 1969. He was also active in the youth movement, becoming the president of the Kerala Pradesh Youth Congress committee in 1977-78 period. Later, he joined the NCP. Welcoming the decision, Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest partner in the LDF, said the resignation came while taking into account the April 12 byelection in Malappuram constituency. Reacting to the resignation IUML state General Secretary K P A Majeed said a probe should be necessary to find out the veracity of the allegation. Agreeing the decision to quit, senior NCP leader Peethambaran Master said it was not fair on his part to continue in office in case the government ordered a probe into the issue.

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