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Enter father, exit son

Thiruvananthapuram, March 10: The father-son feud in Kerala politics turned full circle today.

R. Balakrishna Pillai, the founder-president of a faction of the Kerala Congress named after him, took oath as state transport minister. Pillaiís actor-turned-politician son K.B. Ganesh Kumar had resigned from the post two days ago to pave the way for his father.

The transition marks the end of a 22-month battle that Pillai has been waging against his son and the leadership of the United Democratic Front.

When the UDF came to power in Kerala in May 2001, chief minister A.K. Antony took a strong stand against Pillai on account of a corruption case pending against him and left him out of the new ministry.

Pillai was an accused in a corruption case pending before the state high court.

Before that, a vigilance court had sentenced him to one yearís simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000. Last week, the Supreme Court absolved Pillai of the charges and the Congress leader lost no time in asking his son to resign so that he could take over the ministry allotted to his party, which has two members in the Assembly.

Throughout the last 22 months, Pillai made no secret of his displeasure against Antony for preferring Ganesh Kumar to himself. The period saw intermittent statements by Pillai against the governmentís functioning and the transport department handled by his son was chosen for special criticism. A couple of times, Pillai even went to the extent of stating that his son did not understand the niceties of politics as he was a mere actor before landing the ministerís job by accident.

However, since last week, Pillai has been all praise for Ganesh Kumar, particularly because his son agreed to vacate the position. ď I knew that he would ultimately turn around,Ē is Pillaiís refrain now. Ganesh Kumar said he would continue his political life as an MLA now.

The corruption case relates to the period when Pillai was the electricity minister in the UDF government that ruled between 1982 and 1987. It was alleged that Pillai and a former electricity board chairman had entered into a conspiracy to cause a pecuniary gain to the Bangalore-based Graphite India Ltd by supplying to it 120,40,440 units of power at the rate of 42 paise per unit without the approval of the state Cabinet. The gain to the company was to the tune of Rs 19 lakh, it was alleged.

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