Lakshadweep newly-appointed administrator Praful Khoda Patel is in the middle of a political storm due to some of his recent decisions, which have caused discontent in the Muslim-majority islands. Mr. Patel has been accused of banning beef products in a place the meat is widely consumed, demolishing fishermen's sheds in coastal areas for violating the Coast Guard Act and revoking restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.
His administration says it is part of a series of reforms it intends to carry out in the Union Territory to promote tourism.
That apart, Mr. Patel has also taken off non-vegetarian food from school midday meals and hostel dining facilities. On Friday, non-BJP parties joined hands to plan a mass petition to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking Mr Patel's recall.
Who Is Praful Khoda Patel?
Praful Khoda Patel took charge as the Lakshadweep administrator on December 5 last year, after the death of then-administrator Dinesh Sharma. A former BJP leader from Gujarat, he served as the Home Minister of Gujarat when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state. In 2010, he again became the Home Minister of Gujarat and held the post for two years.
Mr Patel was appointed the administrator of the Union Territory of Daman and Diu in 2016. After Dadra and Nagar Haveli was merged with the Union Territory of Daman and Diu, he became its first administrator in January 2020. Mr Patel, a politician, was an unusual choice for the post as civil services officers usually become administrators.
What Are The Controversies Surrounding Him?
Mr Patel's administration has proposed the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021, which bans the slaughter of cows, calf, bull, and bullocks. Under the regulation, the sale and purchase of beef and beef products are banned.
His administration's other regulation - the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation - proposes changes in the existing land ownership and usage. It allows the government to use any land for development activities, such as building, engineering, mining and quarrying. It has also allowed the sale of liquor at hotels and resorts on three islands, stating the move will promote tourism.
The island administration has removed huts erected by fishermen along the coastline, saying they violated the Coastal Regulation Zone and Coast Guard Act.
But the Congress and some other opposition parties, including the CPI(M), have accused the administration of “destroying peace and culture” of the islands. Senior CPI(M) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress general secretary KC Venugopal have demanded that Mr Patel be recalled from the island chain, which shares cultural ties to Left-ruled Kerala.
Those opposed to the administration's decisions have launched a “#SaveLakshadweep” campaign on social media and some film personalities and celebrities have extended their support to it.