Kerala is witnessing a strong student agitation demanding the resignation of celebrity cookery show host Lakshmi Nair as the principal Kerala Law Academy. The protest has many similarities with the 2015 student agitation of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune, the country’s premier film education centre, against the appointment of television actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of the institute. But, in what can be called a role reversals, the CPM is on the defensive in Kerala for supporting Nair, while the BJP is trying to make political dividends by actively involving in the struggle.  

 

After a marathon meeting on Saturday, the Syndicate of Kerala  University decided to leave it to the government to take the final decision on the removal of  Lakshmi Nair from the post of Kerala Law Academy. But the Nair put the ruling CPM in further trouble by challenging the government to remove her.  

 

"Nobody should expect that I would resign," Nair said. "Law Academy is a private institution, and its principal can't be removed at the interests of somebody else, " she said claiming support from the college administrative council, headed by her father. 

 

The principal's belligerent stand comes in the wake of the Syndicate decision on Saturday to remove her from all responsibilities related to the conduct of examinations in the academy. The Examinations Department of the University will look into the allegations that the Academy flouted all norms to award internal marks to the fiancee of the principal's son. The syndicate also ordered the removal of surveillance cameras from ladies hostel of the academy. 

 

The University shied away from recommending the removal of the principal as the CPM members in the syndicate did not favour it. Meanwhile, the SFI, the student wing of the CPM, decided to intensify the agitation demanding Nair's resignation.

 

BJP former state president V Muraleedharan, who is on an indefinite fast in front of the academy, said the University compromised its autonomy by passing the ball to the government. Even if the CPM and the government come to the rescue of Nair, the students will not allow her to continue, he added. 

 

Former Chief Minister and veteran communist VS Achuthanandan said that if the allegations against Nair were true, it amount to a criminal offence.  

 

Despite the agitation of all students' organisations, the CPM is finding it difficult to take a stern action, apparently, because of the close links Nair have with the leadership. Nair is the host of a programme on Kairali Channel run by the CPM. Besides this, Nair's relative Koliayakkode Krishnan Nair is a senior CPM leader and former MLA.