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Tragedy, sleaze, political clashes hit Kerala in 2017

Tragedy, sleaze, political clashes hit Kerala in 2017

Thiruvananthapuram: Tragedy, sleaze, political clashes and allegations of love jihad shook Kerala in 2017.

Disaster struck in the form of Ockhi cyclone, which hit the states shores on November 29-30 and left over 70 fishermen dead while more than 100 are still missing.

Sleazy tales scarred politicians both of the ruling CPI (M)-led LDF and Congress-headed UDF and as if this turmoil was not enough, the state also witnessed the abduction and assault of an actress, allegedly by hired goons to settle scores.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi reached out to the families of affected fishermen to give a healing touch.

The year started with the abduction and sexual assault of a well-known actress, who essayed roles in South Indian films, shocking the very conscience of the people of the state.

The incident, which occurred in February, saw several twists and turns in its probe and ultimately ended with the arrest of popular actor Dileep, sending tremors in the Malayalam film industry.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government that entered into the second year in office faced embarrassment as two cabinet ministers resigned -- one over sleaze talk with a woman and the other on charges of land and backwater encroachment.

A K Saseedharan, (National Congress Party), was forced to quit the cabinet after a news channel aired an audio clip, purported to be his, in which he is talking in a sexually explicit manner to a woman.

However, months later, a commission report virtually acquitted Saseendran of charges saying that there was no evidence against him. The woman involved in the case also stated that she did not want to pursue the case.

An NRI businessman-turned-politician Thomas Chandy, also from the NCP, who replaced Saseedharan as transport minister, was forced to tender his resignation after being hit by encroachment allegations by his luxury tourist resort in Alapuzha in November.

However, the LDF government came in for praise from different quarters for its revolutionary decision to appoint a Dalit priest in a temple, scripting history.

Similarly, a decision to provide job reservation to economically weak in the forward community in the offices of Devaswom boards that manages temples in the state also won accolades.

On the political point, the state continued to witness a cycle of clashes between the ruling CPI-M and RSS-BJP workers especially in the politically-volatile Kannur district.

BJP chief Amit Shah participated in the Jana Raksha rally, organised by state party unit, and charged that Kerala under the rule of the Left had become a fertile land for the growth of jihadi terror.

The UDF and the LDF also conducted political yatras in the state during the year against the alleged communal agenda of the BJP.

Congress workers in the state received a political boost with the visit of Rahul Gandhi at the valedictory function of Padayorukkam a political yatra here on December 15.

However, the party was left red faced when one of its MLAs A Vincent had to cool his heels in prison for the alleged rape of a housewife.

The case of Hadiya, A 24-year old Hindu woman, who converted to Islam and later married a Muslim youth Shafin Jahan came into national focus after apex court ordered a NIA probe following allegation that the marriage was part of love jihad.

The infamous solar scam continued to haunt the leaders of Opposition UDF with a judicial commission report indicting senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Oommen Chandy in the scam.

A letter of Saritha S Nair, prime accused in the case, that contained serious sexual allegations against UDF leaders, which became a part of the report of judicial commission, also put the Congress leaders in a spot.

In the sensational murder case of a Dalit law student, justice was done to the victim, when the lone accused, a migrant worker from Assam, was awarded death sentence by a trial court.

The Malayalam film industry lost veteran director I V Sasi, a hit maker, who passed away after battling cancer.

The year also saw Malayalam film actress Surabhi Lakshmi clinching the National Best actor award.

In the infrastructure field, Kerala took a giant leap with the commissioning of the Kochi Metro by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June and in four months, the second phase was opened by Chief Minister Vijayan.

In another political development, JD(U) leader and party state president, M P Veerendra Kumar, resigned from the Rajya Sabha saying he did not agree with party chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumars decision to join the NDA fold. PTI JRK UD

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