Congress moots judicial probe into Kerala medical colleges fee hike

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 6 (IANS) The Congress-led opposition in Kerala on Thursday demanded a judicial probe into the fee hike in private medical colleges in the state by the CPI(M)-led Pinarayi Vijayan government.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has been on a war path since the Kerala assembly began a fresh sitting on September 26.

Things got worse when opposition legislators undertook an indefinite fast in the foyer of the assembly, demanding that thee fees be rolled back.

On Wednesday, the fast was called off as the House adjourned briefly for the Puja holidays, but Thursday saw protests by all the top UDF leaders across the 17 districts of the state.

“The only way the truth to the entire fee hike will come out is by a judicial probe. A mere crime branch probe that has been announced to find out if capitation fees has been collected will not suffice,” said State Congress President V.M. Sudheeran while inaugurating the protest at Pathanamthitta.

Even though the Vijayan government has claimed that they have been able to put an end to the capitation fee regime of the private institutions, the opposition has dubbed it as a “bluff”, pointing out that capitation fee for a medical seat still ranges between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 35 lakh.

The opposition claims that while the fee in the medical colleges went up by Rs 47,000 during the five-year tenure of the previous Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the Vijayan government has increased it to Rs 65,000 since it took office in May this year.

Despite a few rounds of talks between the state government and the opposition in the assembly, the impasse continues with the rival fronts sticking to their stand.

“Everything has been done in a foolproof manner and there has been no wrong doing at all. Baseless news is being spread that the Chief Minister got angry with me and the Health Secretary,” said State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja.

With the assembly resuming its sitting on October 17, the UDF has decided to conduct statewide meetings on October 15 and 16 and will meet again on October 17 to decide the next round of protest.

–IANS

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