A N Rajan Babu, leader of UDF constituent JSS, has been named as the new convenor of the ruling Front's sub-committee to study the issue of ownership of estates in Nelliampathy in Palakkad district.
Congress leader M M Hassan, who was the convenor of the sub-committee to study the issue that led to a tussle between Kerala Congress (Mani) and Forests department, had resigned from the post recently protesting the visit of a few MLAs to the area before the visit of the sub-committee.
UDF convenor P P Thankachan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram after a meeting of Front leaders that it was not proper on the part of MLAs to have visited Nelliampathy sidelining the committee.
V D Satheesan, V T Balram, T N Prathapan, Hibi Eden (Congress) and M V Sreyams Kumar (JD-S) visited Nelliampathy last week for an on-the-spot assessment which had angered Kerala Congress-M and some Congress leaders.
Mr Thankachan also criticised government Chief Whip P C George for making open comments against the MLAs. The Chief Whip should try to co-ordinate the work of MLAs and he should not have criticised them in public, he said.
Mr Thankachan said the Nelliampathy issue should not be politicised. The UDF sub-committee would study the issue in detail and submit a report to the UDF liaison committee which would take an appropriate decision on the issue, he said.
The sub-committee would have its first sitting on August 24, he said.
While Kerala Congress-M, the second largest partner in the UDF, is opposed to the eviction of settlers in Nelliampathy, the Forests Minister K B Ganesh Kumar has taken the stand that estates, whose lease period had expired, should be taken over and protected as forest land.