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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

CPM Kerala MP John Brittas violates election code of conduct

On Wednesday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) John Brittas defied a ban from the University of Kerala Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof (Dr) Mohanan Kunnummal and delivered a speech on the University campus. Brittas delivered the lecture at a program organised by the CPM sympathisers and left-leaning organisation members at the Kerala University campus in Thiruvananthapuram.

BJP leader Adv JR Padmakakumar filed a complaint, which led to the notice. Political parties should not use government institutions for campaigning. Thiruvananthapuram sub-collector sought an explanation from the university registrar on behalf of the election commission.

Prof. Mohanan clarified that the ban was imposed because the election code of conduct was in place, and many university employees were assigned election duties. The Election Commission ordered the University organisers to appear directly and clarify the poll code violation. University Employees Union President Santosh Nair and General Secretary Sajith Khan should appear in person and explain on Saturday.

Since outsider lectures on campus violated the election code of conduct, the VC ordered the University Registrar, Prof Anil Kumar, to stop them all. As Prof. Mohanan was not in the capital, his private secretary handed over the order to the registrar on the VC’s instructions.

However, Brittas ignored the ban, arrived at the appointed time, and delivered his speech. The program was organised during the office break in the union hall. This was the first time a political leader entered the university campus and addressed the staff during the election. The opposition-oriented staff informed the VC about the MP’s illegal addressing of university staff inside the campus.

According to the VC’s ruling, the registrar notified the Sub-Collector that the organisers could not host Brittas’ speech. The registrar had informed the Election Commission that John Brittas delivered the speech as part of the employees’ monthly program, did not make a political speech, and was unaware of any vote solicitation.

The registrar’s report claimed the event was not a political campaign since no party flag or symbol existed. However, the report noted that Brittas criticised the VC. Meanwhile, the university union believes there was no politics in the lecture series and, therefore, no violation of the election code of conduct.

The theme was ‘Indian Democracy Challenges and Duties’, and the lecture addressed political issues. Nonetheless, the complainants provided video excerpts of Brittas’ statement to the Election Commission. The CPM MP was seen specifically criticising the central government/ PM Modi/ BJP policies and blaming the VC.

“Our current Prime Minister should not return as the PM. If he returns, our nation will become a fascist nation and collapse into a communal state. We will face the same distress we encountered in the past ten years.”

University Senate members have also written a letter to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan informing them that there has been a clear violation of the Code of Conduct of Kerala Government Employees, 1960 and asked the governor to intervene as the Chancellor. Rule 77B-15 of the Code of Conduct, 1960 clearly states that non-officers of the service association shall not be invited to speak in the association’s meetings without obtaining the government’s prior permission.

In true communist fashion, Brittas responded arrogantly. “The VC is a person who has no idea about the title of VC, what a university is, and what its purity of purpose and democracy are. Can the VC issue such an order? The debate was not a code of conduct violation.”

Brittas pointed out that universities should become platforms for debate, strengthening democracy. Brittas later told the media that the VC who forbade the speech was engaging in slave labour and showing audacity.

Are communists dishonestly sowing fear in the minds of the electorate? Is the CPM possibly being pushed to third place in Kerala’s national politics, taking it down the anarchy route? Will they retain the 1.75% vote percentage and three Lok Sabha seats they earned in the 2019 elections?

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