Pinarayi Vijayan's first year as the chief minister was eventful. The Left Democratic Front government bumped into a string of controversies even before the first anniversary. A recap of the hiccups that shook the power centers.
The chief minister drew flak when he said that the Mullaperiyar dam dispute should be dealt with in the light of the expert committee report that suggested that the dam was not weak. He later explained that the government has not backtracked from the demand for a new dam but the state had to bear in mind the report while pushing its case. He said he would take the initiative to talk with neighboring Tamil Nadu but will never allow an increase in the water level in the dam.
Former advocate general M.K. Damodaran was appointed as a legal adviser to the chief minister on June 8, 2016 but he stayed away after a controversy erupted over his credentials. The appointment of Harvard economist Gita Gopinath as the chief minister's economic adviser also kicked up a row. The appointment of former DGP Raman Srivastava as the police adviser was also controversial.
Attack on dalit sisters
The police custody of two dalit sisters, along with an infant, provided an embarrassing moment for the government. The police were acting on a complaint that the young women had ransacked the local CPM office at Kuttimakkool near Thalassery. Akhila and Anjana said that they had gone to the party office to seek an apology from the party workers who they said had abused their father. Vijayan, however, said in the assembly that the women had barged into the party office and beaten up the workers. Anjana even tried to commit suicide after CPM leaders and workers launched a tirade against her family on television and social media.
As many as 19 politically motivated murders were reported from across the state since the Left Democratic Front government came to power. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan added fuel to the fire when he warned of immediate retribution to anyone who targeted the party workers.
Five months into the term of the LDF government, industries minister E.P. Jayarajan was forced to quit on October 14, 2016. The senior party leader, widely seen as the number two in the cabinet, lost his job after he was found to have appointed a relative to a key government post. Transport minister A.K. Saseendran resigned on March 26 after he was honey-trapped by a television channel.
Students on the warpath
The suicide of Jishnu Pranoy, a first-year engineering student at the Pambady Nehru College near Thrissur, sparked a student agitation that roiled the self-financing sector in the state. The government had more firefighting to do when students of the Law Academy Law College in Thiruvananthapuram went on the warpath against the college management for 29 days.
Reprieve for criminals
The government tried to remit the sentences of the 2,262 convicts including the killers of T.P. Chandrasekharan but the plan was dropped after the governor objected.
The mistreatment meted out to Jishnu Pranoy's mother Mahija in front of the police chief's office in Thiruvananthapuram hit headlines. The woman had gone to meet the director general of police to seek justice for her dead son. The police dragged her in the street along with her husband Asokan and brother Sreejith.
The leak of the budget document while finance minister T M Thomas Isaac was presenting the budget in the Legislative Assembly put the government in a difficult spot. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala interrupted the budget speech with a claim that he knew more than what Isaac had said.
Evictions in Munnar
Ruling partners CPM and CPI locked horns over an eviction drive in Munnar. The chief minister and electricity minister M.M. Mani publicly admonished the officers who led the drive to clear the hill town of encroachments. The demolition of a cross set up by a little-known prayer group on a hillock at Chinnakkanal added to the controversy.
Electricity minister M.M. Mani's disparaging remarks on the plantation workers of Munnar put the government and the CPM in the defensive. His tirade against the women workers' collective isolated him even within the party. Mani drew flak from his comrades as well.
The Senkumar case
The Supreme Court canceled the LDF government's decision to remove T.P. Senkumar as the police chief. The government painted itself to a corner when it approached the court again seeking clarification in the order. The court ordered the government to pay Rs 25,000 as expenses.
The Nilambur encounter
The encounter deaths of two Maoist leaders inside the Nilambur forest on November 24, 2016 raised a hue and cry. Ruling partner CPI was quick to condemn the police action that led to the murder of CPI (Maoist) central committee member Kuppuswami alias Devaraj and Kaveri alias Ajitha.
The police came under fire for the inept handling of the kidnapping and harassment of a Malayalam movie actress. The chief minister said that there was no conspiracy angle in the case.
Shiv Sena workers went on the rampage in Kochi's Marine Drive on Women's Day. The thugs beat up young men and women in the presence of a police team.
CA student Mishel Shaji's mysterious death was another black spot for the police. The police were accused of treating lightly a complaint from the girl's father the day she went missing. The investigation also came under scanner.
The police goofed up again in a case in which two school-going sisters died mysteriously within a gap of two months at Attappallam near Walayar.