The Election Commission has directed Union Minister Vayalar Ravi to repay the money incurred by him during his travel to Kannur while campaigning for the Congress candidate for the by election slated for November 7.
The EC has given this direction following a petition by the Communist Party of India-Marxist that the union minister had misused his official machinery while campaigning for the Congress candidate in Kannur.
The EC has directed the minister to repay his air travel bills for himself and his staff, the accommodation expenses and the travel expenses incurred during the campaign.
The Kannur by-election has already generated more heat with the Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan accusing the EC of playing second fiddle to the Congress. The CM and the CPI-M were provoked after the EC sent paramilitary forces to Kannur after the Congress MP and senior leader K Sudhakaran has complained of the CPI-M doctoring the electoral rolls with the support of the then Kannur collector V K Balakrishnan. The EC had intervened to remove Balakrishnan following the Congress complaint that he was acting on the commands from the CPI-M top brass.
The Kannur by election is prestigious for both the CPI-M and the Congress. The Kannur assembly seat has been retained by the Congress party for several years and the by election had become necessary following the sitting MLA, K Sudhakaran being given the Kannur Lok Sabha seat by the party high command to wrest it from the CPI-M.
The CPI-M finds Kannur prestigious as the Congress had put up former MP A P Abullakutty who was expelled from the CPI-M ,as its candidate. Moreover Kannur is the home district of the two polibureau members from Kerala, party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and the Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Sources in the CPI-M told rediff.com that the party would go all out for a victory in Kannur as any win for Abdullakutty would give wrong signals to the party cadres and local public .
Even the normally sober Defense Minister A K Antony and Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran went hammer and tongs against the CPI-M and the CM Achuthanandan following the latter's comments that the paramilitary forces deployed by the central government at the insistence of the EC would stay in the barracks.