Thiruvananthapuram: Troubles mounted for beleaguered Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar with his wife alleging today she had been a victim of "domestic violence" hours after he filed a divorce petition, putting the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala in a spot.
As questions were raised on his continuace in the Cabinet, 46-year-old Kumar, an actor-turned politician, put up a brave face and scotched speculation he will quit in the wake of fresh embarassment for the UDF in which his party KC(B) is a minor partner. The UDF government is surviving on a wafer- thin majority of just three members.
On a day of high drama, Kumar, who claimed he was a victim of "blackmailing", and his wife Yamini Thankachi traded charges after the former filed a divorce petition in a family court here. Kumar alleged in the petition he was even beaten up by his wife in front of his personal staff.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was also caught in the controveray with Yamini, who broke down while airing her grievances at a press conference, claiming she did not receive justice from him since he had promised to settle the domestic dispute.
Adding to his woes, Kumar's father and Kerala Congress(KC-B) supremo R Balakrishna Pillai renewed the party's demand to the Chief Minister that he should be removed from the Cabinet for not obeying the diktat of the party.
The UDF leadership had recently brokered a truce among the Minister, his estranged father and Yamini.
Kumar expressed confidence of proving his innocence through a probe. The couple have two children.
"I am a victim of blackmailing which was inspired by external influence. I want the whole matter to be probed by a high ranking official, man or woman," Kumar told reporters as the long-running family dispute took another ugly turn.
Kumar claimed Chandy was convinced of his innocence in the matter.
Hitting back after the divorce petition was filed, Yamini said it was she who had been the victim of domestic violence for the last 16 years for questioning "illicit affairs" of her husband.
Kumar was caught in a controversy a month ago after a newspaper published a report that a state Minister was beaten up by the husband of a woman with whom he allegedly had an affair. Seizing on the report, Government Chief Whip P C George alleged Kumar was the Minister mentioned in the report.
Claiming that she even approached Chandy with a petition narrating her sufferings and he promised that the matter could be settled through mediation, Yamini alleged she has been cheated by persons, whom she trusted including the Chief Minister.
The parleys by mediators, including Labour Minister Shibu Baby John, in recent weeks to settle the dispute between the couple have apparently failed, with Kumar stating in his petition that he could no longer move together with his wife.
Kumar filed his petition before the family court here. The court would hear the plea on April 30 and send a notice to Yamini after taking the statement of the Minister.
The minister, in his petition, said his wife did not stand by him during his trials and tribulations. She had even manhandled him and was blackmailing him joining his political rivals.
Seizing on the issue, CPI(M)-led Opposition LDF came out strongly against Chandy, alleging he had failed to act promptly in a serious matter involving complaint of domestic violence from the wife of a minister.
"This is a very serious mistake on the part of the Chief Minister. Yamini has said she had approached him with a complaint but he dissuaded her from pressing it on the promise that he would intervene and settle the issue," leader of CPI-M women's wing AIDWA K K Shylaja said.
Chandy had also committed a grave lapse of misleading the assembly by stating that he had not received any complaint from Yamini. Now Yamini's statement has proved that Chandy sent her back without accepting the complaint, she said.
CPI state Secretary Pannian Raveendran said Chandy had lost the moral right to continue in office as he had sought to shield a ministerial colleague facing serious charge.