With central agencies tightening the noose around the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala over a number of issues including the gold smuggling case, the worried government has launched a twin attack against the Congress-led opposition and the Central government.
After the arrests of former party secretary Koderiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri in a narcotics case and the CM’s former secretary M Sivasankar in the gold smuggling case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned another secretary of the chief minister, C M Raveendran. He was summoned last month but he could not appear after he tested positive for Covid-19. In trouble, the government has devised a counter–attack.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday gave the nod for vigilance to register a case against opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and two former ministers in the previous Oommen Chandy government. The vigilance case is based on the revelations of a controversial businessman Biju Ramesh.
The liquor baron had claimed last month that he had mobilised Rs 10 crore on the instruction of then excise minister K Babu for a favourable liquor policy during the last UDF regime. He said the first installment of Rs one crore was paid to Chennithala, Rs 50 lakh to Babu and Rs 25 lakh to another minister V S Sivakumar. But Congress leaders said it was a desperate attempt to distract attention from serious trouble that had gripped the government.
“It is nothing but a witch hunt. The central agencies have reached the CM’s office so the government will have to save its face somehow. We are not worried and we will take legal recourse to challenge the retrograde step,” Chennithala said.
The LDF has also announced a series of steps against the central agencies. On November 25, it will organise a state-wide protest before the local and civic body headquarters. “The central agencies are being misused to weaken a democratically- elected government. Deviated from the gold smuggling case it seems they have a one-point agenda to implicate the state government. We will oppose it,” said the LDF. On November 16 also the LDF had organised a protest meet against the Union government.
The smuggling case came to light on July 5 after the seizure of 30 kg of smuggled gold from a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage at the UAE consulate in the state capital. Later, the CM had written to Prime Minister Modi seeking a central agency probe. A multi-agency team headed by the NIA is probing the case and 34 people have been arrested so far.
While investigating the gold smuggling case, probe agencies also came across alleged irregularities and commissions in some pet projects of the government. When Sivasankar was arrested on October 28, the government quickly distanced itself from him but in Raveendran’s case it will be difficult for the party to drop him. Besides the government, the party also drew enough flak after the arrest of party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri in connection with the Bengaluru drugs case. Later, Balakrishnan was forced to proceed on leave.