Who is Kerala minister Ganesh Kumar accused of faking sexual assault allegations against Oommen Chandy

On 29 December, Ramachandran Kadannappalli and Ganesh Kumar were sworn into the Kerala Cabinet by the Governor at the Raj Bhavan.

ByK A Shaji

Published Dec 31, 2023 | 10:00 AMUpdatedDec 31, 2023 | 10:00 AM

Governor Khan administering the oath of office to KB Ganesh Kumar. (Supplied)

Recently inducted into the Kerala Cabinet, KB Ganesh Kumar’s controversial legacy takes centre stage as Opposition parties object to his appointment.

The swearing-in ceremony of Ramachandran Kadannappalli (of the Indian Congress (S)) and Ganesh Kumar (of the Kerala Congress (B)) at the Raj Bhavan on Friday, 29 December, showcased the evident strain in the relationship between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The newly-appointed ministers assumed their new roles, with Kadannappalli now overseeing the Registration, Museums, Archaeology, and Archives portfolios, and Kumar taking charge of Road Transport, Motor Vehicles, and Water Transport. Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader and cooperation minister VN Vasavan received the additional portfolio of Ports, which was until then held by Ahammad Devarkovil.

Controversial legacy of Ganesh Kumar

While Kadannappalli, who began his political journey as a student cadre of the Congress half a century ago, is known for value-based politics, actor-turned-politician Ganesh Kumar is infamous for his dubious legacy as an opportunist politician who manipulated things in ways beneficial to him.

A well-known actor, Ganesh is a five-time MLA from the Pathanapuram constituency and son of late Kerala Congress heavyweight R Balakrishna Pillai.


KB Ganesh Kumar attempting to drive a transport bus when he was Transport Minister in the Oommen Chandy government. (Supplied)

The Congress-led UDF boycotted the ceremony, protesting Ganesh Kumar’s induction, citing his alleged involvement in the infamous solar panel case against their late leader, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, damaging the reputation of a man known for his simplicity and straightforwardness.

Ganesh had also earned opposition from the ruling front in recent weeks for defending Nair Service Society general secretary G Sukumaran Nair when he attacked Assembly Speaker AN Shamseer for calling Lord Ganesh a myth and also for criticising Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin for his interpretation of the Sanatana Dharma.

Kumar is the only LDF leader to have attacked Udhayanidhi over the controversy.

Though Ganesh had plans to return to the UDF after Chandy’s death, the move evoked strong opposition from Congress circles. Young Congress leaders Rahul Mamkootathil and Shafi Parambil went into attack mode by writing strong Facebook posts against Ganesh, who, according to them, had backstabbed Chandy.

In recent days, Manoj Kumar, former Kerala Congress(B) general secretary, and former MLA PC George, told the media that Kumar played a significant role in damaging the reputation of Chandy by faking the sexual abuse allegation.

Manoj Kumar had left Kumar’s camp long ago, and George, once a close confidant, claimed that Kumar had acted against Chandy at the behest of Vijayan.

Also Read: Raju, Devarkovil resign from Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet in Kerala

CBI’s findings in Oommen Chandy case

Only recently, the CBI — which exonerated Oommen Chandy in the sexual assault case filed against him based on a complaint by solar scam prime accused Saritha S Nair — informed the chief judicial magistrate court in Thiruvananthapuram that the scam and related allegations were part of a larger conspiracy hatched by Ganesh Kumar, his party’s former general secretary C Manoj Kumar alias Saranya Manoj Kumar, and a controversial middleman who acted on behalf of the Saritha Nair.

The Thiruvananthapuram unit of the CBI filed its investigation report in court three months ago, giving a clean chit to Oommen Chandy, saying that there was no evidence that he abused the main accused in the solar scam case.


Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. (KB Jayachandran)

However, the report contained damaging references to Ganesh Kumar, Manoj Kumar, and Nandakumar, a Kochi-based controversial “middleman” whose whereabouts are unknown.

According to the CBI, the name of the former chief minister did not appear in the original complaint drafted by prime accused Saritha Nair, implicating UDF leaders in the alleged sexual abuse case. Saritha was in remand custody for financial fraud when she drafted the complaint.

The CBI said that the name of the former chief minister was interpolated into the complaint later.

The central agency also produced a statement by Saritha Nair’s driver to contend that the middleman had acted on behalf of Ganesh Kumar and facilitated Saritha’s meeting with Vijayan.

The CBI statement confirmed that Ganesh Kumar collected the petition from Saritha, who was in jail, for manipulation and submission to the police later. Manoj Kumar had also given a similar statement.

The CBI also said that Ganesh Kumar sought an investigation by the agency into Saritha’s allegations just before the 2021 Assembly election. On his insistence, the Vijayan government handed over the case to the CBI.

The CBI could not gather any evidence to back the claim by the complainant that she was sexually abused at Cliff House, the chief minister’s official residence. The report also said that Saritha had urged PC George to act as a witness in the sexual abuse case. But in his statement to the CBI, George denied having witnessed any sexual abuse.

The development evolved less than two months after Chandy’s death and just a couple of days after his son Chandy Oommen won with a massive mandate in the by-poll election held in the Puthuppally Assembly constituency, which his father represented for 53 years.

Also Read: Governor approves Cabinet reshuffle, swearing-in on 29 December

Cabinet position despite controversy 

Ganesh, known for his veiled criticism of the Vijayan government in the past, earned the displeasure of the Chief Minister at the beginning of this year following his scathing attack against Public Works Minister PA Muhammad Riyas, who is also Vijayan’s son-in-law.

Despite a tumultuous relationship with the ruling front, Ganesh Kumar made a surprising U-turn, securing a ministerial berth for the last two years of the Cabinet.

Governor, Ganesh and Vijayan at Raj Bhavan on December 29. Photo: Supplied

Governor Khan, Ganesh Kumar, and CM Vijayan at Raj Bhavan on 29 December. (Supplied)

In the 140-member Assembly, the Kerala Congress (B), Congress (S), Janadhipathya Kerala Congress (JKC), and the Indian National League (INL) are single-MLA parties. When the second LDF government assumed power in the state in May 2021, partners in the CPI(M)-led alliance had agreed to allocate Cabinet berths to four single MLA parties on a “sharing the term” basis.

Kumar and Ahammad Devarkovil were asked to take the oath in 2021. But with one of his two sisters levelling serious allegations against him, including illegally usurping of properties due to her, the LDF told Ganesh to wait till the Ministry completes its half-term to induct him into the state Cabinet. Actor-politician Antony Raju was inducted instead.

Now, though Vijayan has allocated Ganesh Kumar the Transport Ministry under which the loss-making state transport corporation functions, Ganesh’s demand for the additional charge of the Cinema portfolio has been summarily rejected.

During his previous stint as Transport Minister in the then-Oommen Chandy government, he had earned the reputation of being an efficient administrator. But Chandy dropped him from his Cabinet after Kumar’s then-wife gave a written complaint that the minister used to subject her to domestic violence.

After he joined the LDF, the front, too, backtracked from making him a minister after his sister’s allegations.

Also Read: Ramachandran Kadannappalli, Ganesh Kumar take oath as ministers

Ganesh Kumar’s family drama

Ganesh Kumar’s father, R Balakrishna Pillai, was a towering politician in Kerala, and the allegation against the son is that he forged a will to usurp most of the properties of his father spread across the Kottarakkara and Pathanapuram areas.

Governor administers oath to Kadannappally Ramachandran. Photo: Supplied

Governor Khan administers the oath to Ramachandran Kadannappalli. (Supplied)

The Kottarakkara sub-court is taking into account the complaint his sister Usha filed against Kumar. The examination of the documents has been completed and the case is proceeding to a hearing.

Ganesh has also faced legal proceedings for assaulting a youth in connection with a road rage incident and a school headmaster in connection with a school event.

Ganesh’s first stint as Transport Minister in the AK Antony Cabinet ended when his father, Pillai, insisted on his resignation to facilitate his father’s installation after getting absolved in a corruption case.

Pillai was the lone Kerala politician who was jailed in the corruption case. But on 29 December, at his swearing-in ceremony, Ganesh asserted that his life mission was to fight corruption.

Also Read: Divide deepens between Governor and state government