Lakshadweep Administrator - Praful Khoda Patel, Image source - scroll.in
Lakshadweep is India’s smallest union territory and it consist 36 islands, the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. There is no Governor appointed in Lakshadweep, it is controlled by an administrator who is directly appointed by the President of India.
Praful Khoda Patel was made administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020, in addition to Lakshadweep Patel also has charge of Daman & Diu and Dadar & Nagar Haveli. Typically, the administrator jockeys for power without spoiling a working relationship with the elected leaders. Patel, though, has been an odd one. In his five months, his critics have raised at least three main complaints to show his authoritarian approach.
The creation of the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 is one. It empowers the administration to take over any land, without consultation with the stakeholders. For islanders, this is an attempt for a "corporate land grab." In other measures, proposed or implemented, the consumption or sale of beef, a part of the food habits of many, could be an offence punishable by seven years in prison; those who have more than two children cannot contest panchayat elections. Anyone could be held in prison without reason up to a year, under a new Goonda Act, in a place that has a very low crime rate. The traditional livelihood of fishing communities has been impeded by mindless regulations that deny them access to coastlines. Their sheds on the coastal areas have been demolished, saying they violated the Coast Guard Act. Dairy farms run by the administration have been shut.
As the Opposition steps up protests against Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel over his proposals for the Union Territory, the BJP is divided on the matter. While leaders in neighboring Kerala and the Lakshadweep BJP president have backed Administrator Praful Patel, other leaders have questioned his decisions, criticised as unilateral.
Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala Elamaram Kareem said that the MPs are planning to take their protest to the next stage by demanding that the Centre allow a joint delegation to visit the region and assess the situation. “If that does not happen, we will go there anyway,” Kareem said.