Defensive UDF fields jailed ex-minister

The decision to field Pillai from his home constituency of Kottarakkara in Kollam district was announced by his party here on Tuesday after consulting legal experts, said his actor-son Ganeshkumar.

Pillai was jailed after being held guilty by the Supreme Court in the Idamalayar dam corruption case. According to some leading lawyers,  Pillai has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Law-1947 only and not under the 1988 law which bars those found guilty from contesting elections. Pillai has not undergone a jail term for more than two years which would also have barred him.

The party, which claims its leader has been falsely implicated, now wants to take advantage of this technical loophole in the law to put Pillai’s credentials to test before the electorate. Pillai’s decision to contest has put the UDF in the dock since the LDF was going hammer and tongs on the issue of corruption. While UDF leaders were tightlipped over the development, LDF leaders made mincemeat of their silence.

“It’s illegal. Even without the case, he lost the last elections. We will be happy to face him this time,’’ said CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Meanwhile, the government which was favourably disposed to his plea for parole on the ground that his wife was ill, has now rejected his petition.

 Pillai contested the 2001 Assembly elections from jail after he was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in the graphite case.

Voters of Kottarakkara gave a resounding victory to him that year, though he could not become a minister because of the case against him. His son Ganesh Kumar became a minister in the A K Antony-led cabinet. Pillai also got bail in the graphite case after he got the MLA’s protection.

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