A short-lived sensation over Kerala CM’s forged signature

Thiruvananthapuram: As though the raging controversies involving the chief minister’s office were not enough, state BJP has alleged that a government file relating to the observance of Malayalam Language Day bears the forged signature of Pinarayi Vijayan.

The allegation is based on the fact that on September 6, 2018, the date of the signature on the file, the chief minister was away in the US, undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

Sandeep Warrior, the state BJP spokesman, who showed the file to newspersons at a press conference, claimed that it was not a digital signature and as such it could only have been signed by someone else in the CM office.

He wondered whether it was former principal secretary M Sivasankar or the gold smuggling suspect Swapna Suresh who did it. He demanded a thorough probe into the alleged forgery.

The claim created quite a bit of sensation as there had already been allegations that Pinarayi Vijayan was not fully aware of whatever was happening in his office.

So, the opposition United Democratic Front leaders were quick to join the ruckus. Prominent Indian Union Muslim League leader PK Kunhalikkutty said it was a serious issue and demanded a clarification by the chief minister.

Pinarayi Vijayan, however, rejected the charge and confirmed that it was indeed his signature, put from his hospital bed. Responding to the BJP charge, the chief minister said the signature was provided through the e-office facility and read out portions of the file from his ipad.

He termed the allegation as based on lack of technological knowledge by the BJP spokesman, but wondered how Kunhalikkutty, who had been a minister for long time, took up the cause. He even had a dig at the Muslim League, saying that the UDF party has been repeating whatever the BJP says.

The chief minister clarified that he had, in fact, signed 39 files on the same day and quoted from a 2013 government order, which allowed e-processing of files through the e-office software. He said it was normal practice for himself as well as other ministers to clear important files in this manner whenever they were not in town.

The clarification came as a big relief for the ruling front, which has been caught up in another unsavoury controversy involving Bineesh Kodiyeri, the son of state CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Bineesh has been named by one Anoob Mohammed, who has been apprehended in Bengaluru in connection with a major drug racket involving the film and music industry, as a friend.

The man claimed that he had received financial help from Bineesh Kodiyeri in his businesses, which the state secretary’s son acknowledged, but insisted that he had no idea about his drug connections.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has demanded a thorough probe into the connections of the party secretary’s son with the drug mafia, which has close liaison with the film industry in Kerala as well.

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