Kerala's UDF wants Devaswom clause dropped

In a severe setback to the United Democratic Front (UDF) government, the coalition leadership which met in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday asked the government to withdraw a controversial clause in the “Devaswom ordinance” and also its decision to take over cooperative medical colleges.

UDF chairman P P Thankachan, briefing the decisions of the UDF leadership meeting  to the media, said the clause in the ordinance was being withdrawn in the face of strong opposition from various quarters and the move to take over the medical colleges was dropped as it had not been discussed in the UDF.

The controversial clause permits only Hindu MLAs who take oath in the name of god in the House to elect the members to the Devaswom boards which manage government-owned temples in the state.  He said that the ordinance would be so amended that out of the three members, two would be selected by the ministers and the remaining one by Hindu MLAs.  As per the existing Devaswom Act, all the three members — two men and one woman — of the three Devaswom boards are elected by Hindu MLAs.

The government initiated to change the practice, since in the present Assembly, the UDF has only 23 Hindu MLAs while the Opposition LDF has 47. At the stormy meeting, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress (M) — the two main constituents of the Front — threatened to pull out of the government in protest against a section of Congress MLAs’ open allegation that they were taking decisions unilaterally.

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