The Kerala legislative assembly on Monday passed a unanimous resolution demanding the recall of Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel over the recent draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (2021) and new rules which have sparked protests on the island.
The resolution was moved by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. “The people of Lakshadweep are undergoing a difficult situation. Their culture and tradition are under threat following dictatorial measures being taken by the administrator ignoring local protests. Even their food habits and livelihood are under threat,” said the resolution. It also pointed out the island’s long-standing relations with the state and said the Sangh Parivar is making the island another laboratory and people of the country will not allow that to happen.
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“People of the island are peace-loving. The administrator is taking many measures to alienate them. In the name of development, even their livelihood is threatened. Even coconut trees are painted with saffron colour in the name of beautification. This can’t be allowed at any cost,” it said. After his recall, all his controversial decisions should be withdrawn, it said.
An archipelago in Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep is in the eye of a storm for the past two weeks after the administrator brought in a new set of rules. The issue also hit national headlines after many Congress and CPI(M) MPs wrote to the President, alleging that administrator Patel, a former home minister of Gujarat, was trying to “saffronise the island by imposing many new rules inimical to island culture”.
Meanwhile, the administration has denied permission to a team of MPs from Kerala to visit the island, citing Covid-19 protocol. On Sunday, supporters of the “Save Lakshadweep campaign” observed a black day on social media by painting their home page black.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has defended the new rules strongly and said people with vested interests were spreading misinformation. It said the administration was trying to develop the island as a major tourist hub, like Maldives, and local people supported its endeavour. But this has failed to placate party leaders on the island with many of them quitting the party in protest. A delegation of the party is in Delhi to apprise home minister Amit Shah about the ground situation.
In Delhi, BJP vice president AP Abdullah Kutty criticised the Kerala assembly move, saying it was not in good spirit and against the federal polity of the country. “The resolution is against the spirit of democracy and federalism,” he said.