Kerala Industry Minister E.P. Jayarajan, charged with appointing his relatives to government jobs, resigned on Friday.
In the first week of October, the appointment of P.K.Sudheer as the managing director of state-run public sector undertaking Kerala State Industrial Enterprises (KSIE) came under fire from the opposition parties. Sudheer is the son of CPM Lok Sabha MP P.K.Sreemathy and the nephew of Jayarajan. The opposition parties alleged that Sudheer did not possess the necessary qualifications or experience for the job. As the incident snowballed into a controversy, Deepthi Nishad, wife of Jayarajan's nephew, resigned from her post as general manager of Clays and Ceramics Products Ltd in Kannur.
On Thursday, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan sought details of all appointments that took place in his ministry. The minister offered to resign on the same day.
Both the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party had called for strict action against the minister, ever since reports about the appointments surfaced.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan made the announcement, saying Jayarajan himself decided to step down.
"He asked for permission in the secretariat meeting following the mistake he committed. He was very particular about the image of the party and the government," Balakrishnan told the media.
"We have proved that we are a party that holds values in politics and we are different from other parties," Balakrishnan said.
"The previous (Oommen Chandy) government saw several ministers getting involved in trouble over various charges. The BJP-Vasundhara Raje Scindia (government in Rajasthan) faced charges but did not resign.
"With Jayarajan's resignation, we have proved we are different," added Balakrishnan.
The party secretariat meeting held here went on for nearly three hours. Vijayan, taking the salute at a passing-out parade of police constables in the capital, pledged his government won't be soft on corruption.
The CPM found itself on the backfoot over the Jayarajan issue, with not a single party leader turning up for debates on TV channels to discuss the nepotism charges.
As he left the meeting venue, Jayarajan sarcastically remarked to journalists: "An announcement will come soon which you will like to hear."
Meanwhile, the Vigilance Department told a court here on Friday that it was taking necessary steps in the probe against Jayarajan.
On Thursday, a public interest litigation was filed against Jayarajan.
(With inputs from IANS)