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Kerala Assembly Unanimously Passes Resolution Seeking Lakshadweep Administrator's Ouster

Amid growing opposition to Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, the Kerala Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution demanding his ouster. 

Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan

Image: Twitter/PTI/ANI

Amid growing opposition to Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, the Kerala Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution demanding his ouster. Extending solidarity with the people while introducing the resolution, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan cited the state's historical and cultural connect with the Union Territory. According to him, laying off employees, demolishing sheds of fisherfolk and diluting the powers of district panchayats portrayed a colonial mindset and an attempt to impose the Hindutva agenda. 

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan remarked, "Centre should intervene in Lakshadweep issue. It's Centres responsibility to ensure that people's interest should be protected". "The Administrator, who is challenging the interests of the people, must be removed and the Centre must take immediate action to protect the lives and livelihood of people of Lakshadweep," he added. 

The resolution mentioned that "dictatorial measures" endangering the culture and tradition of the locals were adopted despite local protests. Stressing that the people of Lakshadweep are peace-loving, it claimed that their livelihood was being snatched away in the name of "development". Taking umbrage at coconut trees being painted with the saffron colour under the garb of "beautification", the resolution also sought the withdrawal of all controversial decisions. 

Multiple opposition parties including Congress, NCP, Makkal Needhi Maiam and CPI(M) have joined hands in seeking the recall of the Lakshadweep Administrator for his purported "anti-people" policies. A BJP leader, Praful Khoda Patel took charge in December 2020 thus becoming the first person from a non-civil service background to be appointed to this post. Defending the contentious rules, the Lakshadweep Collector claimed that the administration wished to develop the Union Territory as the next Maldives. 

Here are some of the concerns raised by the opposition: 

  • Easing stringent Standard Operating Procedure for COVID-19 control led to a rise in COVID-19 cases to the extent that Lakshadweep has the highest test positivity rate
  • The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act has been notified by the administration which paves the way for preventive detention in a place that records the least number of crimes
  • Unemployment has increased manifold after hundreds of people working for the government including 200 marine protection watchers, over 193 contract employees of the Tourism department, and over 190 employees of other departments have been laid off
  • Lifting the longstanding ban on alcohol consumption ignores the sociocultural context of the area in the guise of promoting tourism and individual freedom
  • The draft Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation seeking to ban the slaughter, transportation, buying and selling of beef products infringes the right of the locals to adequate means of livelihood
  • New amendments consist of "unconstitutional rules" such as barring people with two children to contest polls or work in Panchayats
  • The administration is not ready to give the Pandaram lands to those who are eligible and are instead trying to enlist them as government lands
  • The Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation draft paves way for unsustainable development by allowing mining, construction of big roads, power to interfere with the ownership right of islanders' properties, and to take back land used by the ST community with or without giving any compensation
  • The closure of the Lakshadweep Building Development Board will leave the homeless in distress
  • Dairy farms are being shut to bring in private players and make the locals jobless
  • The destruction of fishing sheds and tools of local fishermen under the Coast Guard policy without giving them any notice plunges them into poverty
  • The administration's plan to hand over the passenger ships to private enterprises and the denial of scholarships to students studying in the mainland

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