Talks fail, Kerala opposition to continue protest

Talks fail, Kerala opposition to continue protest

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 5 (IANS) Talks between the Kerala government and the opposition Congress on Tuesday to end the latter’s week-old protest against the “indiscriminate” fee hike in private self-financing medical colleges failed to break the deadlock, with both sides sticking to their stand.

The whole of Tuesday saw several round of talks took place between the state government, managements of self financing medical colleges and the opposition but at the end, things remained the same.

“Never before has a Chief Minister of Kerala taken such a position and was not willing to make any changes to their stand. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s adamant stand has spoiled everything and hence we have no other go but to continue our protest inside the assembly,” Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told reporters after the urgent meeting of the UDF leadership.

Representatives of the management however tried to play down the day’s discussions with Vijayan and State Health Minister K.K.Shailaja.

“We discussed our problems that we are facing in running the medical colleges, especially the shortage of cadavers and in between the issue of fees also came up. We said our stand,” said Anilkumar Valli, a representative of the managements, told the media.

According to sources, Vijayan was upset with the managements because before their meeting the representatives of the management had held a meeting with Chennithala.

Following the breakdown of talks, two Congress legislators Shafi Parambil and Hybi Eden who had begun indefinite fast in the foyer of the assembly since last Wednesday, with their health turning bad, on Monday night, shifted to the hospital. In their place, two other Congress legislators – Roji John and V.T. Balram – started their indefinite fast.

Since the start of the present assembly session on last Monday, the assembly has not had a full day’s sitting.

Even though the Vijayan government has claimed that they have been able to end capitation fee being charged by private managements, the opposition has termed it as a “bluff”, and pointed out that capitation fee for a medical seat still ranged between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 35 lakh.

While the fee in the sector 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 by Rs 65,000 since the new government took office in May this year.

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